What You Should Know About Stroke Risk and Stroke Symptoms in Women
Did you know that women make up 60% of all stroke deaths? If you’re a woman, it’s important to be aware of your unique risk factors and early signs of stroke in women.
You probably know that stroke is one of the top causes of death worldwide. But did you know that it disproportionately affects women?
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Women make up 60% of all stroke deaths, according to the American Heart Association. So, if you’re a woman, it’s important to understand your unique risk factors and be aware of the early signs of stroke in women.
The most common stroke symptoms are the same in both sexes, including:
But some women experience other, more subtle early signs of stroke that may be easy to brush off. This includes fatigue, confusion, general weakness and nausea or vomiting.
Any sudden, unexplainable loss in function should prompt a call to a healthcare provider. If it is a stroke, getting treatment immediately can make all the difference.
Women and men share the major stroke risk factors: smoking, high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol.
But there are other risk factors that are unique to women, says neurologist Dolora Wisco, MD. These include certain hormones, childbirth, pregnancy, birth control pills and migraine headaches with aura. This is why women have their own set of stroke prevention guidelines with strategies to help reduce their risk.
“It’s necessary to have guidelines specifically for women,” Dr. Wisco says. “If you have high blood pressure, diabetes or cholesterol, or if you’re taking oral contraceptive pills and smoking, those are major risk factors that you need to pay attention to if you are female.”
The good news is that some of these factors can be changed or addressed.
The guidelines from the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association provide science-based recommendations, including:
Sticking to healthy lifestyle behaviors — like maintaining a healthy body mass index, eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, exercising regularly and not smoking — has been shown to reduce stroke incidence in women and improve stroke outcomes in both men and women.