Take a deep breath…This is important: Every woman you know, including your daughters needs to know how strokes differ between men and women.
Although you may think of stroke as a man’s disease, women are at a greater risk of suffering a major disability from stroke and, worse, women are more likely to die from a stroke than men.
While it’s true that men have more risk factors for strokes than women, the difference is that strokes are particularly deadly for women.
Frankly, stroke statistics for women are surprising and distressing, even for someone who’s worked in this field for 40 years.
Here’s why: The death rate for women from stroke is twice that of breast cancer. But there aren’t any ribbons or “walks” on the behalf of those who died or are living with the devastation that follows a stroke.
And for our African-American sisters, the numbers are even more devastating.
Overall, the statistics from the National Stroke Association report that half of the women in this country will die of strokes or heart disease. So, yeah, this is serious. Spread the word about how strokes differ between men and women.
A Look at Women’s Risks
With the number of women suffering strokes now surpassing the number of men for the first time, women need to be concerned about minimizing stroke risk and optimizing their overall health.
Besides the risk factors both sexes share, women also have the following to contend with:
Hormones: These include birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy during menopause. ➡
Extra weight: The “spare tire” of extra belly fat can increase a woman’s risk of stroke up to five times when combined with high levels of triglycerides, which are fats found in the blood.
Read our article on the risks of belly fat here:
➡ Getting Rid Of Visceral Fat-Part 2 Fat-Part 2
Migraine Headaches: Women are more likely to suffer migraines than men, and those who do are three to six times more likely to suffer a stroke than women who don’t have migraines.
Being pregnant: Pregnancy can put a strain on the heart and raise the blood pressure, both of which lead to an increased risk of stroke.
Strokes and Aging:
“More women die of strokes each year, and one of the biggest differences is age,” according to Ralph L. Sacco, MD, Chief Of Neurology at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, Fla., and spokesperson for the American Stroke Association.
“Women tend to live longer, and age is such an important factor in increasing the risk of stroke. There are more elderly women out there, so there are going to be more stroke patients in women than men,” he states. “In the oldest age group, the real risk of stroke seems to be a little greater in women than in men in their 70s and 80s.”
But the reasons are not clear. For a long time, we believed that estrogens protected women in their younger years. However, a number of large studies have now found that the risk of stroke is greater because of treatment with post-menopausal estrogen.
So, as always, we need to educate ourselves and each other.
Stroke Symptoms in Women
Complicating the situation is that women’s stroke symptoms are often quite different from the typical symptoms men experience, as are heart attack symptoms.
Sometimes women with stroke can present with less “typical symptoms,” as has been found for heart disease.
For instance, studies have shown that certain pain syndromes and change of consciousness (which we don’t always think about as typical stroke symptoms) may be seen more often in women than men.
In addition to pain, women may also experience nausea, chest pain, heart palpitations, or difficulty catching their breath.
Read up on that here:
Thankfully, most medical professionals are now aware of the differences in stroke symptoms between the sexes.
The greater problem, however, is the patient not recognizing what the signs and symptoms of stroke are and not getting medical attention quickly enough…
So now you know why I keep pushing the same information to you…
➡ Someone in the United States has a stroke every 40 seconds.
➡ Every 4 minutes, someone dies of a stroke.
➡ Every year, more than 795,000 people in the United States have a stroke. About 610,000 of these are first or new strokes.
Please, take charge of your own health and don’t just rely on your physicians – as learned as they may be. Here are some tips to get you started and help you navigate the medical mumbo-jumbo at your doctor’s visit…
It’s important for women to understand their risk of stroke and be aware that they might experience a different set of warning signs than men.
Above all, don’t brush off stroke symptoms because you think it’s a disease that mostly strikes men — it can sneak up on women who aren’t aware that they are every bit at risk.