According to the National Stroke Association, more women die from stroke than men. In fact, stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in women (compared to being the fifth leading cause of death in men). Surprised? Remember, women generally live longer than men, so they are more likely to live alone when a stroke occurs.
Signs of a stroke
Remember to act FAST when you suspect a stroke. FAST stands for:
- FACE: Does one side of the face droop?
- ARMS: Does one arm drift downward when the person is trying to raise their arms?
- SPEECH: Is the person’s speech slurred or does it sound strange?
- TIME: If you observe any of these signs, call 911 immediately.
Other symptoms which may be especially unique to women include:
- Loss of consciousness or fainting
- Generalized weaknesses
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Confusion, unresponsiveness or disorientation
- Sudden significant behavior change
- Nausea or vomiting
Women also have unique risk factors when it comes to having a stroke:
- Taking oral contraceptives, especially with additional risk factors including age, cigarette smoking, high blood pressure or diabetes.
- Natural changes in the body during a normal pregnancy can cause increased blood pressure and stress on the heart.
- Hormone replacement therapy (HRT), prescribed to relieve menopausal symptoms, this combined hormone therapy of progestin and estrogen can increase a woman’s risk for stroke.
- Migraine headaches with aura not only cause debilitating pain, they can increase a woman’s risk of stroke by two and a half times.
Stroke prevention in women
- If you experience migraines with aura and smoke, stop smoking immediately.
- Monitor your blood pressure carefully during and after your pregnancy.
- If you are over 75, get screened for atrial fibrillation
- If you are starting oral contraceptives, make sure your physician screens you for high blood pressure.
To learn more, join us for Women Take Heart: Wine and Watercolor, an event focusing on women’s unique stroke risk. Learn more about stroke and enjoy time with female friends in a fun painting activity. Tuesday, Oct. 10, 5:30-8:30. Learn more at stelizabeth.com/wineandwatercolor.
Editor’s note: Written by Debbie Marques. This is a special advertising supplement, paid for by St. Elizabeth Healthcare.