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 http://heart-strong.com/Bookstore.html (also available on Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com)
See the April 2009 issue of the journal STROKE for new research about stroke in women.