Stroke and Women: The Surprising Facts

According to the National Stroke Association, twice as many women die from strokes as they do from breast cancer each year. However, according to a recent survey, women believed that breast cancer occurs five times more often than stroke, and only 40 percent of women were concerned about experiencing a stroke in their lifetime.

Clearly, there is a need in the medical community to better educate our patients, especially women, about the dangers of stroke. It’s important that women know how to reduce their risks of having one, as well as how to recognize the earliest signs of stroke in order to receive the best medical care possible and improve their chances of recovery.

Strokes occur when a blood clot travels to, or forms, in the brain. When a section of the brain is deprived of oxygen, those brain cells die off, causing damage that can manifest in the form of something as mild as numbness in an extremity to near complete incapacitation or death.

But there are ways to help prevent a stroke. The following risk factors can increase the odds of experiencing a stroke:

  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Being overweight (even by as little as 10 pounds)
  • Smoking
  • Family history

There’s nothing to be done about a family history of stroke, but the other risk factors can be mitigated, usually through a healthy lifestyle of diet, exercise and smoking cessation.

How do I recognize the signs of a stroke?

Unfortunately, strokes still affect millions of women each year. It’s important to recognize the earliest signs and to obtain medical care as soon as possible if you think you may be experiencing a stroke.

The classic symptoms of strokes include:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg – especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • Sudden, trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination

It is critical that women become familiar with the symptoms of a stroke and are therefore empowered to act swiftly if they are experiencing any of the above. Alaska Neurology Center believes that women should be informed of the risks of stroke, as well as familiar with the signs of stroke in the event that one occurs. It’s a serious medical condition – and while we may be able to reduce our risk, we should be aware of the earliest signs.


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