Heart disease is the # 1 killer in women while stroke remains the #3 killer of women. Similar to heart attacks women have worse outcomes (than men) when they have a stroke.
Some interesting (and disturbing) information about stroke outcomes in women:
stroke risk factors are treated less aggressively in women (strokes are not prevented as well in women versus men)
women have more disabilities after a stroke than men (more likely to require long term care after a stroke)
women have larger (more severe) strokes
women are less likely to receive appropriate treatments when they have a stroke (less likely to receive clot-busting medications that can decrease the amount of damage to the brain)
women are older than men when they have a stroke
women have different risk factors for stroke - atrial fibrillation (irregular heart rhythm) and high blood pressure are more common causes of stroke in women (smoking, coronary artery disease, diabetes and high cholesterol are more common in men)
the incidence of stroke among younger women has been increasing
Many women are unaware of the stroke risk factors and warning signs of a stroke.
Signs and Symptoms of a Stroke:
sudden numbness, weakness (usually on one side of the body)
sudden severe headache
sudden inability to understand what other people are saying
sudden inability to speak
A stroke is also referred to as a “Brain Attack” - need to get to the hospital quickly to prevent permanent damage, just like a heart attack.
Approximately 80% of strokes are preventable by making healthy lifestyle changes. It is important for women to learn what their individual risk factors for stroke include. Our new book “Take Charge: A Woman’s Guide to a Healthier Heart” discusses risk factors for heart disease and ways to prevent heart disease. Many of the risk factors for heart disease can also lead to a stroke (80% of strokes are called ischemic strokes meaning they are caused by a narrowing in the blood vessel leading to the brain and a blood clot - this is the same process that can cause a heart attack). For more information about our book please visit http://heart-strong.com/Bookstore.html (also available on Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com)
See the April 2009 issue of the journal STROKE for new research about stroke in women.