Methodist Healthcare May 23, 2019

You all know the phrase “different strokes for different folks”. But it’s taken the medical community until now to figure out women have different risk factors for stroke and need targeted interventions to increase prevention.

More than 60 percent of stroke-related deaths in North America happen to women. And a recent study reveals female stroke survivors have a lower quality of life than male stroke survivors. But you can turn that around!

New guidelines from the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association suggest you take steps to prevent stroke, especially if you have the following risk factors:

  • Migraine headaches, especially with aura. Migraine is three times more common in women and increases stroke risk three to six times.
  • You’re post-menopausal with a 35-or-more-inch waist or a triglyceride level over 128 mg/dL. That increases stroke risk five-fold.
  • Going on birth control pills? Get screened for high blood pressure (HBP); taking hormones plus HBP ups stroke risk. Tip: Ask your doctor about taking two low-dose aspirins daily (with 1/2 glass warm water before and after) to decrease stroke—and breast cancer—risk.   
  • If you have HBP before becoming pregnant, consider low-dose aspirin and/or calcium supplements—along with your vitamin D3 and prenatal vitamins—to lower your risk of preeclampsia. Preeclampsia doubles your stroke risk later in life.

What else can reduce your stroke risk? Blood pressure control: Maintain a healthy weight; and get regular exercise at every age. Take HBP-lowering meds, along with statins, and anti-migraine drugs, if prescribed. And try laughing. It may lower blood pressure and soothe heart and soul!

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