Strokes statistically kill twice as many women per year than breast cancer. If you think that stroke is a “man-oriented” occurrence think again. Over 425,000 women have a stroke annually – an astounding 55,000 more than men.
Interestingly, in a recent survey commission by Healthy Women, a leading women’s health resource, 40 percent of women claim to have little to no concern about ever having a stroke. The majority of the same participants also thought breast cancer to be five times more of a threat to their health than stroke, and most could only name two symptoms of stroke.
What is a Stroke?
There are two primary kinds of stroke: transient ischemic attacks (TIA) and hemorrhagic stroke. Both are the result of blood clots that reach the brain. TIA’s are mini-strokes that come on suddenly, but the symptoms typically cease within an hour or two after the clot breaks up, and they cause no permanent damage. Hemorrhagic strokes occur when the blood clot ruptures, and these often cause permanent disabilities in areas the body that depended on tissues in the brain that die because of the rupture.
Stroke symptoms are fairly cut and dry in general, but the symptoms of a stroke in women may include other signs that you need to be aware of.
Risk Factors for Stroke in Women
Much like heart attacks, the typical risk factors for stroke include having a family history of stroke, high blood pressure or cholesterol, smoking, diabetes, obesity, and a sedentary lifestyle.
As usual, women have even more to be concerned about within the scope of stroke risk factors. Those unique to women include:
- Being pregnant increases blood pressure and stress on the heart.
- Taking birth control pills
- Use of Hormone Replacement Therapy
- High triglyceride levels
- Being a migraine sufferer can increase risks as much as six times.
Symptoms of a Stroke in Women
General symptoms of stroke include numbness or weaknesses in the face or limbs that often present in only one side of the body, but these can be asymmetrical in nature. Blurry vision, trouble speaking, confusion, lack of coordination, and a sudden severe headache are other indicators that one is having a stroke.
Again, women in particular can suffer additional onset of sudden symptoms including:
- Facial and limb pain
- General weakness
- Chest pain
- Heart palpitations
- Shortness of breath
Experiencing these symptoms can be frightening, but as a woman, you know how to keep your cool. Call 911 immediately! Depending on the type of stoke occurring, new medicines are available for administration within three hours of onset to minimize any permanent damage.
Empower Yourself with Knowledge about Strokes in Women
Take control of your overall health and well-being by learning how to recognize these signs and risks of a stroke, especially those factors that are unique to women. Don’t become a statistic due to ignorance – leave that up to the guys.