3 risk factors for stroke every woman should know
More women die from stroke than breast cancer every year. Shocked? It’s true. In fact, stroke is the third leading cause of death in women. While it is the fifth for men, women are more likely to have another stroke within five years of their first stroke. So, what is it that makes strokes affect women differently than men? Neurologist Forrest Lowe, MD, explained risk factors for stroke that every woman needs to know, symptoms to watch for and steps you can take to lower your risk.
“Symptoms of stroke can present differently in women than they do in men,” said Dr. Lowe. Stroke symptoms in women could include:
- Loss of consciousness.
One suggested way of recognizing a stroke in yourself or in others is called BE FAST. You can find out more about what BE FAST means and how to recognize someone having a stroke right here.
What are the most common risk factors for stroke?
There are three risk factors for stroke that are women-specific, including:
- Having migraines with aura.
- Taking hormonal replacements or birth control medications.
- The natural changes in your body that come with pregnancy, such as changes in hormone levels, as well as pregnancy issues such as preeclampsia and eclampsia – hypertension.
Dr. Lowe said, “While these are unique risk factors for women, having any of the common risk factors, such as diabetes, hypertension or smoking, along with these risk factors, can increase your risk for stroke even more.”
What steps can you take to prevent a stroke?
“The good news is there are steps that you can take to prevent having a stroke and to lower your stroke risk,” said Dr. Lowe.
These steps are:
- Try to live a generally healthier lifestyle.
- Check your blood pressure regularly.
- Keep a healthy body mass index.
- Don’t smoke.
- Let doctors know of any family history or risk factors that you may have.
- Know the signs and symptoms in case you or someone you know experiences a stroke.
There are two types of treatment for stroke, which are the same for women and men: IV tPA, which works by dissolving a blood clot, or a thrombectomy, which is a surgical procedure that removes a blood clot. However, recovery for women may look a little different.
Dr. Lowe said, “Women have often taken the role as the central caregiver. So, unfortunately, when something happens to them, they may not have someone to take care of them.” This makes women more likely to have to go through additional rehabilitation and more likely to live in a long-term healthcare facility after a stroke.
Dr. Lowe wants women to know that although strokes are a major cause of death and disability, strokes can be prevented and treated if you know the risk factors, signs, symptoms and act FAST to seek medical attention.
Prisma Health Stroke Center
Time is critical when it comes to a stroke. Our team is on-site 24/7, with a multidisciplinary program of care and leading-edge approach for stroke patients.Learn More