Stroke can be a serious health risk for women. The National Stroke Association stated that there are 55,000 more deaths of stroke than men annually, which makes it the third greatest cause of death in women.
Men generally are more likely to have unhealthy habits, such as smoking and drinking, compared to women, but still, women are facing with more death rates regarding stroke.
What is stroke?
A stroke happens when the brain is unable to receive nutrients and oxygen from the blood due to a blockage or clot in the vein connected to the brain. The lack of blood and oxygen causes death of the brain cells.
Depending on the cause, there are various types of strokes. If it occurred due to a clot, it’s called ischemic stroke. If it is a result of blood vessel rupture, it is a hemorrhagic stroke, and the transient ischemic attack is a result of a temporary clot.
Mini stroke or transient ischemic attack
Even though the mini stroke will pass on its own, this is a serious sign of what may come. The mini stroke can last from a couple of seconds to a day, but this doesn’t mean you don’t need immediate medical attention.
Most women are not aware they are having a mini stroke, so being familiar with the symptoms and signs can prevent future damage. Do not disregard any of the below listed symptoms of stroke in women.
Risk of stroke in women
These are the typical risk factors for stroke applicable to both men and women:
• High blood pressure
• Lack of exercise
• High cholesterol
• Drug use
• Cardiovascular disease
However, there are risk factors unique for women which increase the risk of stroke. Those are:
• Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
• Birth control pills
• Suffering migraines
• Mental health
Stroke symptoms in women
Again, there are shared symptoms of stroke that are applicable to both sexes:
• Vision problems
• Dizziness and weakness
• Unexplainable headaches.
But there are symptoms that are unique for women, and knowing them may save your life. Some of them are:
• Behavioral changes
• Shortness of breath
• Vomiting and nausea
If you want to learn how to recognize a stroke remember the acronym FAST. The acronym was created by the American Heart Association that refers to the usual signs for stroke:
F means facial drooping
A is for arm weakness
S is for speech impairment
T means it is time to call the emergency.
It is essential to take measures for stroke prevention. Based on the abovementioned signs of stroke, keep in mind that avoiding risky behaviors, including drinking and smoking, is the most important step for stroke prevention. Other methods for stroke prevention are:
• Keeping an eye on the blood pressure, especially during pregnancy or when you take birth control pills
• Regular diabetes tests
• Checking your cholesterol
• Having a healthy body weight
• Workout for about 20 minutes every day
• Report any mood swings
• Have a healthy sleep (7-8 hours)
• Use more olive oil in your diet
• Observe your headaches
• Try to eliminate stress as much as you can.
What happens after a stroke?
The early stroke detection can reduce the effect on your life. If you can recognize the symptoms of stroke, you can prevent long-term damage by seeking immediate help.
The impact of stroke can be destructive. People experience physical challenges such as face paralysis, behavioral changes, memory loss or speech impairment. It depends on the stroke severity, the location of it and the treatment time.
If the stroke is located on the right side of your brain, you may experience impaired judgment of distances and memory loss.
If the stroke occurs on the left side of your brain, you may experience speech impairment, slow behavior and memory problems.
If it affects the cerebellum (the part responsible for balance), you may experience dizziness, balance problems as well as abnormal reflexes.
The recovery after a stroke can be very challenging. Depending on the severity it can require speech and rehabilitation therapy to recover your skills. Some people need assisted care for the usual tasks such as showering, feeding and dressing.
A stroke can completely change your life. If you engaged in risky behaviors before the stroke, it is essential that you turn to a healthier life with proper diet and exercise.
Since there are unique risk factors for stroke in women it is especially important to recognize and understand them. Even though stroke can occur in women at all ages, the age is still an important factor. Observing your health on a regular basis will help you detect any changes and eventually prevent stroke.