Let’s set the record straight: Stroke isn’t just a health risk for men. According to the National Stroke Association, annually 55,000 more women are dying of stroke than men, making it the third leading cause of death for women.
This may seem alarming – men generally partake in unhealthy habits, like drinking and smoking, in comparison to women, and yet women are facing greater fatalities when it comes to stroke.
What is stroke?
A stroke occurs when the brain cannot receive oxygen and nutrients from blood because of a clot or blockage in the vein that reaches the brain. The lack of oxygen and blood results in the cells in the brain dying.
There are a few different types of strokes depending on the cause. If there is a clot, it’s referred to as ischemic stroke. If a blood vessel ruptures, this is called hemorrhagic stroke, and a transient ischemic attack (TIA) – or a mini stroke – is caused by a temporary clot.
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.
Most women don’t realize they are experiencing a mini stroke, let alone a stroke in general, so knowing the signs and symptoms can prevent long-term damage. Any of the below signs and symptoms of a stroke in women should not be overlooked. If you begin to experience any of them call 911.
Stroke in women: Causes, signs and symptoms
At all ages, a man has a higher risk of having a stroke than a woman. But each year, more women than men die from stroke and the gap is widening. But what exactly is putting Women at such high risk?
We know that men visit doctors less and are more likely to drink alcohol, smoke and eat unhealthy, but there are some large differences between men and women that increase a woman’s risk of stroke. Some of women’s increased stroke risk is caused by the fact that women tend to live longer on average than men, and stroke mortality is higher with age. But that’s only part of the puzzle.
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
Drug use including cigarette smoking
But there are certain risk factors for women which are unique that increase the risk of stroke in women. Some of these include:
Taking birth control pills
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
Suffering migraines with auras
As you can see, some of these risks don’t apply to men, but unfortunately up the risk of stroke in women.