women higher risk stroke Neuroscience

Women Have Higher Risk of Stroke

Stroke is the number five cause of death across America, but it is the number three cause of death of women in America. As with many medical conditions, the risk of having a stroke varies based on a number of factors, some factors are outside your control and some factors you can control on your own and with the help of others. Risk factors that can’t be controlled,  but are important to be aware of include genetics, race, age, gender and history of stroke.

Women’s Stroke Risk Factors:

  • Birth control pills
  • Pregnancy
  • Hormone replacement therapy
  • Migraine headaches with aura
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure/hypertension
  • Clotting disorders
  • Autoimmune diseases

Signs of a Stroke in Women:

Watch for any of the following symptoms that come on suddenly:

  • Numb or weak face, arm or leg
  • Strong confusion when talking or understanding
  • Inability to see properly
  • Loss of coordination or balance
  • Unexplained severe headache

Women have reported other symptoms during or prior to having a stroke including:

  • Fainting
  • Weakness/fatigue
  • Disoriented or confused feeling
  • Strong mood swings and feelings of agitation
  • Nausea
  • Seizures
  • Hiccups

What Can Women Do to Prevent Stroke?

A healthy lifestyle can make a big difference in the risk factors that are under your control. Even a few small lifestyle changes can decrease your risk of stroke significantly.

  • Bad Habits – Cut out those bad habits that you’ve been meaning to stop doing for years. Smoking tobacco kills healthy blood cells, so commit to quit this year and you’ll be reducing your risk of stroke as well as the risk of stroke for those around you. Other bad habits to quit include stressing out and putting off regular doctor’s appointments. It’s time to make a healthy, balanced life your priority.
  • Diet – Focus on nutritious meals with moderate portion sizes to get control over your weight. You may want to speak with a dietician or your physician about how changing your diet can help improve your heart health and reduce your risk of stroke. Speak with a doctor before starting a new diet, especially if you have other health conditions such as diabetes.
  • Exercise – Regular physical activity can help you gain control over your cholesterol, weight and blood pressure. Start slowly and work your way up to at least 30 minutes of exercise daily.

Stroke Groups, Foundations, and Resources

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