Strokes and Urinary Incontinence

Today’s post is going to get pretty scientific. Frankly, ladies, this is a subject deserves far more attention than it has been given (in our opinion!).

Strokes are something we have all heard about at one time or another; they are far more common than you think - especially for women. Be vigilant, ladies, because, among the many possible adverse consequences of a stroke is urinary incontinence. Urinary incontinence? That’s our favorite topic here at Yarlap. Buckle up, we're in for one heck of a summary. Read on to discover more about the surprising link between strokes and urinary incontinence.

What is a stroke?

Somebody once told me that a stroke is basically a “brain attack”. Much like a heart attack occurs when the flow of blood to the heart is disturbed, a stroke occurs when the flow of blood to the brain is disturbed. Blood carries oxygen to the brain, from which brain cells feed. When the brain cells can't access oxygen, they begin to die. Often, the affected brain cells come from the part of the brain associated with controlling memories and and muscles, which is why many people suffering from strokes exhibit slurred speech, muscle weakness/stiffness, and confusion.

There are actually two different types of stroke. A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel leaks or bursts in the brain. These are typically quite serious, but not to worry too much; hemorrhagic strokes are not terribly common. The second, more common type of stroke is known as an ischemic stroke, which occurs when a blood clot disturbs the flow of blood to the brain. You can also experience something known as a transient ischemic attack, which refers to a short-term (less than 24 hours or so) disruption of blood flow to the brain. The symptoms are similar to that of a stroke, but they are temporary.

The increased risk of stroke in women

Ladies, take some pride in the fact that we have a higher average life expectancy than those whiny men. Unfortunately, this also makes us more likely to suffer a stroke, as increased age is associated with a higher risk. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, women make up around 60 percent of deaths from stroke. Women who take birth control are also at an increased risk, given that many forms of birth control have a possible side effect of increased blood pressure. The CDC also notes that African-American women, mainly because of higher obesity and diabetes rates, face nearly double the risk of stroke than their white counterparts.

Strokes and Urinary Incontinence

Muscle spasticity (aka muscle stiffness/tightness) affects many stroke patients. As you can imagine, that stiffness can affect the pelvic floor muscles. Starting to sound familiar? When your pelvic floor muscles are stiff or tight, you're not going to have an easy time passing urine. Your bladder may leak drops of urine, or it may have a difficult time emptying itself.

Kegels are obviously not an option for most stroke patients. The amount of physical exertion they require poses a formidable obstacle. An electroceutical device which requires just 20 minutes a day and requires no more than simply inserting a small probe and pressing a button would be a miracle for many women in this situation. We here at Yarlap understand the pain and effort that stroke patients take on during their recovery. Let us relieve some of that burden.