Medical Minute: Unique stroke risks and symptoms that women need to know
One in five women will have a stroke in their lifetime, and stoke kills twice as many women as breast cancer, says Dr. Erin Clark, a Beacon Health emergency care physician. Learn the unique risks of stroke in women, and how the symptoms for women differ from men, in this Beacon Medical Minute.
Stroke is the number four cause of death in women and one in five women will have a stroke during their lifetime. Sixty percent of all stroke deaths are in women. It kills nearly twice as many women as breast cancer does.
It’s important for women to understand their unique risks of stroke. It’s also important for women to know their symptoms and how their risk factors may differ from that of men so they can get timely appropriate treatment. The higher stroke risk in women may be due to several factors.
One: Pregnancy, which is thought to be a risk factor for stroke, due to preeclampsia and the increased risk of blood clots during pregnancy.
Two: Women may be on birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy that will predispose them to blood clots, especially if they smoke.
And three: Women are more likely to have migraine with aura, which is thought to be an independent risk factor for stroke.
When women are having a stroke, they can have similar symptoms to men such as numbness or weakness on one side of their body or on their face, trouble speaking vision problems, trouble walking or troubles with balance. However, women may describe or experience other symptoms that differ from men, such as more generalized weakness, confusion or disorientation, nausea and vomiting or fatigue.
So if you’re female or if you care for someone who’s female, it’s important to know what your risk factors for stroke are and how a stroke may present if you could be having one. If you think you’re having a stroke get to an emergency department right away.