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 stroke?
A stroke appears when our brain can’t get enough nutrients and oxygen from our blood as a result of clogging or blockage in the vein that directs blood to the brain. So, the insufficient supply of blood and oxygen in this area makes the cells cease their activities and eventually die.
Strokes are caused by few different things and that’s why medicine divides strokes into several groups. For instance, in case a clot is present then this is known as ischemic stroke. When the blood vessel breaks this is known as hemorrhagic stroke and finally, a temporary clot in the vein leads to a mini stroke also known as TIA.
TIA or mini stroke
Although a mini stroke will clear up on its own, it should be taken as serious warning sign of what’s to come. Ignoring a mini stroke can mean the difference of life or death. A mini stroke can last for a few moments or last all day, but in either case seek emergency medical attention.
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.
Stroke in women: Causes, signs and symptoms
Regardless of their age, men always have more chances of experiencing a stroke compared to women. Yet, every year significantly more women die from stroke and it seems that the numbers are growing. So, why are women at more danger? What is the cause?
As we all know, men tend to skip regular medical checkups and they usually smoke more cigarettes, drink more alcohol and eat less healthy food, but there are some other things that make women more prone to stroke-related fatalities. One of the reasons why women are at higher risk is the fact that they usually live longer than men and the risk of stroke grows with age. However, this is only one of the factors that contribute to this difference.
Risk of stroke in women
When it comes to being at risk for a stroke there are typical risk factors that apply to both sexes. These are:
– Lack of exercise
– High blood pressure
– Being overweight
– High cholesterol
– Cardiovascular disease
– Drug use including cigarette smoking
However, there are specific factors that are unique for women’s tendency to experience stroke. This is a short list of these risk factors:
– Using birth control pills
– Being pregnant
– Suffering from frequent migraines
– Following HRT – hormone replacement therapy
– Overall mental health.
As you can see, some of these risks don’t apply to men, but unfortunately up the risk of stroke in women.
Stroke Risk Factors, Categorized by Those That Are Sex-Specific, Stronger or More Prevalent in Women, or Similar Between Women and Men.
Symptoms of stroke in women
Once again, there are common symptoms of stroke that apply to both men and women such as:
– Headaches by known cause
– Trouble with vision
– Weakness and dizziness.
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.
Stroke prevention in women
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
Stroke in women: What happens after?
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.
Age can also be an important factor in stroke risk. However, women of all age groups can be affected by stroke. You must monitor your health on a regular basis to identify any kind of changes to prevent stroke. Remember, it is you who is responsible for your health!