Stroke does not strike only men, and the National Stroke Association reports that over 55,000 more women are dying of stroke than men per year, so it is the third major cause of death for women.
This can be quite an alarming statistics, regarding the fact that compared to women, men consume more alcohol, lead more unhealthy lifestyles, like smoking, and yet, women are more susceptible to stroke.
What is the exact reason for the increasing rate of strokes in women? This high risk cannot be completely explained, but it is partially due to the fact that women live longer than men, and stroke mortality is increased with age.
However, you need to understand the reasons and the symptoms of stroke in order to be able to help yourself.
Namely, a stroke occurs when the brain is not able to get oxygen from blood due to an obstruction in the vein that reaches the brain. Therefore, oxygen deficiency in the blood and brain leads to the death of brain cells.
Depending on the cause, strokes can be of a few types, namely, an ischemic stroke includes a clot, while a hemorrhagic stroke includes rupture of a blood vessel, and a transient ischemic attack (TIA) – or a mini-stroke – is a result of a temporary clot.
Mini-strokes usually clear up on their own, but they are an alarm which predicts a more serious situation to come. If you ignore it, it may become a difference of life or death. It can last from several moments, to up to a day, but in all cases, remember to seek a medical help.
Numerous women are not even aware of the fact that they are experiencing a mini-stroke, hence, it is of high importance to learn the symptoms that can help you prevent long-term effects.
Note that all of these signs are extremely serious and should not be ignored, instead, you must immediately call 911.
These are the typical risk factors for stroke for both sexes:
- Cardiovascular disease
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Excess body weight
- Physical inactivity
- Drug use, as well as cigarette smoking
However, in the case of women, there are also some risk factors which elevate their risk of stroke, such as:
- Mental health
- Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
- Use of birth control pills
- Migraines accompanied by auras
These factors raise the risk of stroke in women, and some of them do not apply to men.
|Classification of Stroke Risk Factors, according to Sex-Specific, Stronger or More Prevalent in Women, or Similar Between Women and Men|
|Risk Factor||Sex-Specific Risk Factors||Risk Factors That Are Stronger or More Prevalent in Women||Risk Factors With Similar Prevalence in Men and Women but Unknown Difference in Impact|
|Oral contraceptive use||X|
|Postmenopausal hormone use||X|
|Changes in hormonal status||X|
|Migraine with aura||X|
|Prior cardiovascular disease||X|
Therefore, the most common signs of stroke in both sexes are:
- Weakness and dizziness
- Trouble with vision
On the other hand, women may experience other symptoms besides these ones, including:
- Changes in behavior
- Nausea or vomiting
- Shortness of breath
Moreover, there is another method which can be of great use if you feel like you are experiencing or you are going to experience a stroke. Namely, the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association developed an easy acronym in order to help you recognize the stroke symptoms- FAST. This is its meaning:
F –Face Drooping
A – Arm Weakness
S – Speech Difficulty
T – Time to call 911.
As the consequences of stroke may be extremely serious, we should all know which measures to take in order to prevent strokes. Moreover, it is of high importance for the prevention of stroke to avoid risky behaviors, such as drinking and smoking.
Furthermore, the following prevention methods can be of great help:
- Diabetes tests
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Testing the cholesterol levels
- Sleep well (7-8 hours)
- Report mood swings, as depression, may raise the risk of stroke
- Use olive oil in cooking due to its remarkable health benefits
- Monitor your headaches –you need to get help if they become severe migraines
- Deal with stress regular 20-minute exercise
- Monitoring blood pressure during pregnancy or before the use of birth control
You can significantly lower the negative impact of stroke if you detect in on time, so knowing its symptoms may help you avoid long-term damage.
However, the effects of stroke can be devastating for all people, and they include impaired speech, behavioral changes, cognitive challenges, such as the inability to solve problems and memory loss, and face physical challenges such as paralysis. The effects depend on the severity of the stroke, the length of the needed treatment and the location in the brain where it occurs.
-Namely, if it occurs on the left brain side, it will lead to issues in the language and speech, cautious behavior and gradual development of memory problems.
-On the other hand, if the stroke occurs in the right brain side, it may result in an impaired judgment, memory loss and misjudgment of distances
— If it affects the cerebellum, the brain part responsible for balance, the stroke will cause abnormal reflexes, dizziness, and balance problems.
The recovery of stroke includes speech therapy in order to regain the skills and rehabilitation therapy. Often, people who have suffered a stroke need help in their everyday activities, like eating, showering and dressing.
-Other changes after a stroke can dramatically alter lifestyle. If prior to stroke you followed unhealthy habits, making a switch to healthier eating and more exercise is the key to preventing another stroke from happening.
As we stated, knowing the symptoms of stroke can help you save our life and prevent a stroke. Furthermore, you need to monitor your health regularly and examine every change you experience, as you are the only one responsible for your own health.