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New Clue to Why Younger Women Face Lower Stroke Risk

14 February, 2013

ISLAMABAD: Women seem to differ from men in the way that plaque collects in their neck arteries, a process linked with increased stroke risk.

While the study found women tend to have more narrowing of the neck arteries than men, it also found they had less build-up of artery-clogging plaque. Less plaque means lower risk of stroke.

The study of 1,686 women and men found that, between ages 35 and 39, women had an average of 40 percent apparent narrowing in the carotid arteries while men had an average of 20 percent narrowing in those arteries.

Women in that same age group had about 0.1 centimeters squared (cm2) of plaque build-up and men had about 0.2 cm2.

Between the ages of 55 and 59, women had an average of 0.58 cm2 of plaque build-up and men had an average of 1 cm2. By ages 70 to 74, women had an average of 1.24 cm2 of plaque build-up and men had an average of 1.88 cm2. In this same age group, narrowing of the neck arteries was 55 percent for both men and women.

The researchers say this indicates that, beginning in their 50s, women start to "catch up" to men in plaque build-up. That's consistent with increased risk of cardiovascular risk as women age.

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