How often you go to the toilet daily could signal your risk of a future stroke – study

Many people die from stroke because the brain cannot survive without a steady supply of oxygen-rich blood. When blood flow comes to a halt, the death of brain tissues leads to brain damage and disability before death. The condition has many known risk factors. The frequency of bowel movements, however, may be one of the most overlooked.

One large cohort study of Chinese adults investigated the link between multiple vascular diseases and multiple vascular and non-vascular diseases.

The data, drawn from more than 487,000 participants without any history of stroke at baseline, were cited in the British Medical Journal in 2019.

Findings suggested that compared with a bowel movement frequency of once a day, low bowel movement frequency, (defined as less than three times per week), was associated with an increased risk of ischaemic stroke.

More frequent bowel movements, on the other hand, were associated with increased risks of heart failure, and type 2 diabetes.

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The study found no association between bowel movement frequency and the risk of hemorrhagic stroke.

Researchers put the link between stroke and constipation or low frequency of bowel movements down to changes in the composition of the gut’s microbiota.

These alterations, it is believed, may contribute to the development and progression of diseases such as atherosclerosis.

A review published in the Journal of Clinical Hypertension confirmed this in 2019, after suggesting a clear link between constipation and cardiovascular events.


The report also cited changes in the intestinal microbiota as a probable cause of the development of atherosclerosis.

It added that these changes may also drive increases in blood pressure and cardiovascular events.

The researchers noted: “Constipation increases with age and often coexists with cardiovascular risk factors.

“In addition, straining at stool causes blood pressure rise, which can trigger cardiovascular events such as congestive heart failure, arrhythmia, acute coronary disease and aortic dissection.”

Despite there being substantial evidence supporting this connection, medical research chooses to focus heavily on dramatic intervention and the risks of cardiovascular complications from constipation have remained largely overlooked.

READ MORE: Woman, 34, found out she had stroke after husband spotted serious sign

Researchers, however, encourage experts to review the relationship between constipation and cardiovascular disease.

Constipation is widely understood as a common occurrence after a stroke, but the reason for this isn’t clear-cut either.

Multiple factors, such as lifestyle changes and new medications after stroke are thought to lead to constipation, discomfort and bloating.

The health body Precision Recovery explains: “When you move around, your gut moves too. This movement is important in allowing you to have a bowel movement.”

Stroke risk factors

High blood pressure is among the most significant risk factors for stroke, as it could quadruple the risk of stroke if poorly controlled.

Other conditions that affect the heart rhythm, like atrial fibrillation, can prompt the formation of clots and contribute to stroke

A regular and healthy diet combined offers good protection against these complications by improving cardiovascular health.

Smoking cessation is equally important as it increases blood pressure and reduces levels of oxygen in the blood.

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