Chances are you’ve heard the common facts about stroke. For instance, maybe you know that a strokeoccurs as a result of stopped blood flow to your brain. Or that the most frequent stroke symptoms include facial drooping, arm weakness and speech difficulty. But did you know that each year women suffer more strokes than men?
Not only will nearly 452,500 women suffer a stroke this year, it is believed that women will also have a worse recovery after stroke. With staggering statistics like these, it’s important for every woman to know the specific stroke risk factors women face and some of the stroke symptoms that are unique to women.
4 surprising risk factors
When it comes to stroke prevention, simple lifestyle changes like routinely exercising, maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking and managing high blood pressure and/or cholesterol can make a big difference. However, for women stroke prevention doesn’t stop there. Here are 4 unique risk factors women are faced with:
Taking oral contraceptives. Because many birth control pills can increase a woman’s risk of developing a blood clot by three to four times, which can also increase the risk of a stroke. It’s important to note, though, that the risk of stroke with birth control pills is low. The greatest risk is the use of birth control along with additional risk factors.
Pregnancy. When pregnant, a woman’s body may go through many changes, including higher than normal blood pressure, stress on the heart and weight gain. While these changes may only be temporary as a result of pregnancy, they do increase the likelihood of stroke, but only while pregnant.
Use of Hormone Replacement Therapy. To ease the symptoms of menopause many women may try using hormone therapy to decrease hot flashes and sweating, vaginal dryness and mood swings. But in addition to these benefits, hormone replacement therapy can increase the likelihood of blood clots and stroke.
Experiencing migraine headaches (especially with aura). For some individuals who experience migraines, they will also experience an aura, a type of migraine warning sign. An aura may include visual symptoms ranging from flashing and zigzag lines to blind spots. It is believed that a woman’s stroke risk is doubled if she experiences migraines.
For women: unique symptoms to watch for
In addition to the common stroke symptoms of weakness, vision problems, speech problems, headache, movement problems and seizure, women may be more likely to experience different symptoms, such as:
- Fainting (loss of consciousness)
- Shortness of breath
- General confusion, including unresponsiveness and/or disorientation
- Sudden and drastic behavior change
- Experiencing Hallucinations
- Nausea and/or vomiting
Comprehensive care when you need it most.
There is no doubt that stroke is scary, but with a comprehensive stroke program at Gwinnett Medical Center’s Emergency Department, your customized care will begin the moment you call 911. With GMC’s Stroke Alert process you will be placed in a dedicated stroke unit, with specialized care provided by a team of stroke experts.
You will receive a personalized treatment plan tailored to suit your unique needs. This may include tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), which is the only FDA-approved clot-busting medicine. Even after you have a stroke, GMC offers an extensive range of treatment options and services to ensure the best health outcome possible.