Fun with numbers: Coffee, Sex, Stroke

A new study in the journal Stroke is triggering lots of exciting news stories about sex, coffee, defecation, and other activities. Here are two fairly typical headlines:

Common Activities Such As Sex, Coffee Can Cause Stroke []

Sex and coffee ‘trigger stroke’ [BBC News]

You might enjoy looking at the study itself, and asking yourself  (1) what, if anything, it actually tells you about whether you would put yourself at risk by engaging in any of these activities;  and (2) what useful information such a study, conducted the way this one was, could possibly hope to find:

Trigger Factors and Their Attributable Risk for Rupture of Intracranial Aneurysms: A Case-Crossover Study,” Monique H.M. Vlak, MD; Gabriel J.E. Rinkel, MD, PhD; Paut Greebe, RN, PhD; Johanna G. van der Bom, MD, PhD; Ale Algra, MD, PhD.

“Results—Eight triggers increased the risk for subarachnoid hemorrhage: coffee consumption (RR, 1.7; 95% CI, 1.2–2.4), cola consumption (RR, 3.4; 95% CI,1.5–7.9), anger (RR, 6.3; 95% CI, 4.6–25), startling (RR, 23.3; 95% CI, 4.2–128), straining for defecation (RR, 7.3; 95% CI, 2.9–19), sexual intercourse (RR, 11.2; 95% CI, 5.3–24), nose blowing (RR, 2.4; 95% CI, 1.3–4.5), and vigorous physical exercise (RR, 2.4; 95% CI, 1.2–4.2). The highest population-attributable risks were found for coffee consumption (10.6%) and vigorous physical exercise (7.9%)….

” Conclusions—We identified and quantified 8 trigger factors for aneurysmal rupture. All triggers induce a sudden and short increase in blood pressure, which seems a possible common cause for aneurysmal rupture. Some triggers are modifiable, and further studies should assess whether reduction of exposure to these factors or measures preventing sudden increase in blood pressure decrease the risk of rupture in patients known to have an intracranial aneurysm.”

BONUS (though not directly related): “Cells, coffee beans, sperm and a mouse party – and it’s all interactive!