Two times more women die from strokes than breast cancer each year, according to the National Stroke Association. And while strokes affect more men than women, women are more likely to die after a stroke. Women may also exhibit unique symptoms when suffering a stroke.
Unique risk factors
While risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity and smoking are common causes of stroke in all adults, women have added risks related to their gender.
Taking birth control pills (even a low-estrogen pill) may double women’s risk of stroke. If other risk factors such as smoking, high blood pressure or diabetes are present, stroke risk is even higher.
Migraine headaches with aura
Ischemic stroke is two times more prevalent in people who have migraines with aura (blurred vision), says the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Women are three times more likely to suffer from migraines as men.
Hormone therapy (HT)
Although HT may relieve symptoms associated with menopause, using hormones places women at a higher risk of stroke, says the NIH.
Blurred vision, weakness on one side of the body and slurred speech are common symptoms of stroke in men and women. But women may experience less common symptoms at the onset of stroke, says the National Stroke Association, including:
- Loss of consciousness or fainting
- Nausea or vomiting
- Sudden shortness of breath and chest pain
If you or a loved one are experiencing signs of a stroke, remember to B.E. F.A.S.T. Call 911 and seek immediate medical attention.