Stroke Outcomes in Women

Heart disease is the # 1 killer in women while stroke remains the #3 killer of women.  Similar to heart attacks women have worse outcomes (than men) when they have a stroke. 

Some interesting (and disturbing) information about stroke outcomes in women:

  • stroke risk factors are treated less aggressively in women (strokes are not prevented as well in women versus men)
  • women have more disabilities after a stroke than men (more likely to require long term care after a stroke)
  • women have larger (more severe) strokes
  • women are less likely to receive appropriate treatments when they have a stroke (less likely to receive clot-busting medications that can decrease the amount of damage to the brain)
  • women are older than men when they have a stroke
  • women have different risk factors for stroke – atrial fibrillation (irregular heart rhythm) and high blood pressure are more common causes of stroke in women (smoking, coronary artery disease, diabetes and high cholesterol are more common in men)
  • the incidence of stroke among younger women has been increasing

Many women are unaware of the stroke risk factors and warning signs of a stroke.

Signs and Symptoms of a Stroke:

  • sudden numbness, weakness (usually on one side of the body)
  • sudden severe headache
  • sudden inability to understand what other people are saying
  • sudden inability to speak
  • sudden dizziness

A stroke is also referred to as a “Brain Attack” – need to get to the hospital quickly to prevent permanent damage, just like a heart attack.

Approximately 80% of strokes are preventable by making healthy lifestyle changes.  It is important for women to learn what their individual risk factors for stroke include.  Our new book “Take Charge: A Woman’s Guide to a Healthier Heart”  discusses risk factors for heart disease and ways to prevent heart disease.  Many of the risk factors for heart disease can also lead to a stroke (80% of strokes are called ischemic strokes meaning they are caused by a narrowing in the blood vessel leading to the brain and a blood clot – this is the same process that can cause a heart attack).  For more information about our book please visit (also available on and

See the April 2009 issue of the journal STROKE for new research about stroke in women.


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