Strokes In Women: Unique Symptoms, Risk & Prevention

Many lives are claimed by stroke every year. It’s one of the leading causes of death worldwide, often caused by lifestyle and diet problems. A stroke is essentially a blood clot which blocks blood flow to the brain. If not attended to immediately, a stroke can be fatal. Most people associate strokes with men, but the truth is that more women die from strokes than men. This is because they tend to get strokes later in life when they’re less likely to survive.1

General Symptoms Of A Stroke

Dizziness is a general symptom of stroke

These are symptoms that are common to both men and women2

  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking, or difficulty understanding speech
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance, or lack of coordination
  • Drooping of one side of the face or either arm

Symptoms Of Strokes Which Are Unique To Women

Women are more likely to have headaches during a stroke

It’s interesting to see that when a woman gets a stroke, there may be some symptoms which are unique to women. Keep your eyes out for any of these symptoms so that you know what to do in the case of an emergency.3

  • Sudden vomiting or nausea
  • Extreme exhaustion or urge to lie down
  • Hiccups
  • Dizziness that is not classic vertigo
  • Atypical chest pain
  • Numbness of the entire body with one side being number than the other.
  • Sudden behavioral changes
  • Lightheadedness
  • Headaches

Risk Factors Of A Stroke For Women

Birth control and HRT pills can increase risk

Not only are stroke symptoms unique to women, there are some risk factors that are unique to women as well. These include:4

  • Going through menopause
  • History of problems during pregnancy like gestational diabetes or preeclampsia
  • Use of hormonal birth control while smoking
  • Use of menopausal hormone therapy during or after menopause
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Being pregnant or having recently given birth
  • Migraine headaches
  • Being overweight or obese

What You Can Do To Reduce Risk Of Strokes

Exercise and healthy diet keep weight and blood pressure in check,

Even if you are at risk from things you cannot help, like medication, pregnancy or menopause, you can still reduce your risk for stroke through these methods.5

1. Reduce Harmful Medication

When it comes to medication that could cause strokes such as hormone therapy, ask your doctor if it’s possible to put you on the lowest possible dosage for the minimum amount of time.

2. Exercise

Keep your other risk factors in check. By exercising you can keep your weight in a healthy range.

3. Eat Healthy

Eating healthy allows you to prevent risk factors like high blood pressure, diabetes, or high cholesterol from becoming a reality. Reduce the amount of sodium, sugar, and saturated fats in your diet. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grain fibers, and oily fish.

4. Aspirin

A study showed that aspirin as therapy helped reduce the risk of stroke in women. The purpose of aspirin is to mostly control blood pressure.6 However, there is a small change of bleeding of the stomach and intestine lining with excessive use. If you see yourself as high risk, ask your doctor if aspirin could be a treatment option for you

Note: Do not try to self-treat with aspirin. It should only be used for stroke or heart disease prevention under the guidance of a qualified health professional.

Strokes can be a risky and life-changing traumatic event. As the saying goes, the best cure is prevention. So use these tips to reduce your risk.

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