OCD associated with increased stroke risk


OBSESSIVE-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental health condition characterized by recurring and unwanted thoughts and behaviors.

New data suggest that individuals with OCD may have an increased risk of ischemic strokes later in life.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source define stroke as a disruption of blood supply to the brain, which results in death or damage to brain tissue.

Strokes are the fifth leading cause of death and a leading cause of disability in the United States.

Scientists are interested in understanding how other health conditions might influence an individual’s risk of stroke. Some researchers are focusing on OCD.

A recent paper, which appears in the journal Stroke, describes a longitudinal study investigating the risk of stroke in individuals with OCD.

The results of the study showed a higher incidence of stroke among individuals with OCD than among those who do not have OCD.

Strokes are classified as either ischemic or hemorrhagicTrusted Source. In an ischemic stroke, a blood clot or a buildup of plaque blocks blood supply to the brain.

In a hemorrhagic stroke, a blood vessel bursts in the brain. As noted by the American Stroke Association, 87% of strokes are ischemic.

Certain risk factorsTrusted Source put people at a higher risk of stroke. For instance, some health conditions, including diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, and sickle cell disease increase the risk.

Lifestyle factors can also increase risk, including a diet high in saturated fat and salt, physical inactivity, obesity, excessive alcohol consumption, and tobacco use. Other risk factors cannot be modified, such as age, genetics, and family history.

Identification of risk factors for stroke can be helpful in potentially decreasingTrusted Source a person’s risk of stroke. Research is ongoing regarding the increased risk of stroke for individuals with mental health conditions.

What is OCD?
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) defines OCD as:
“[A] common, chronic, and long-lasting disorder in which a person has uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts (obsessions) and/or behaviors (compulsions) that he or she feels the urge to repeat over and over.”

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