Strokes among women ages 41-64 increased 24% between 2001 and 2005 among members of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, the company reports.

Strokes in this group rose from 3.3 members to 4.1 per 1,000 members in just 4 years, making strokes in females in the age group one of the fastest-growing diseases among all Minnesota members under age 65, according to the company, in Eagan, Minn.

Overall, stroke topped the list of fastest-growing major diseases in the company’s “2006 Health Concerns Report.”

The Minnesota Blues also saw significant growth in diabetes among women age 41-64, which rose 20.5% between 2001 and 2005, compared to 17.9% among males in the same age group.

Hypertension in that same age group of women increased 14% in the period, while the number of obesity surgical procedures in women in the age group increased 121%, to nearly 242 patients per 100,000.

Hypertension in young men was another disturbing development, with its incidence in men under 40 increasing 23.8% in the period among Blues members.