Facts about Strokes
Strokes are serious health complications that usually happen to older people, but according to The National Stroke Association, strokes can happen to anyone at any time. A stroke happens when blood circulation to the brain is stopped which can cause many long term neurological and physical problems. Yes, they are more common in people 65 and older, but they can happen to younger people too. And this statistic is shocking: someone has a stroke every 40 seconds in The United States, and stroke incidents happen more to women than men. Strokes are the fifth leading cause of death in this country and approximately 60 percent of those patients are women! Doctors agree that there are common things that cause strokes in both men and women, like physical inactivity, obesity, cardiovascular disease, smoking cigarettes and diet, but there are some things that only happen to women.
First, depression is the one sign of stroke risk and is much more than an emotional issue. Depression, work related stress, isolation and other emotions can cause high blood pressure, the leading stroke risk. These issues effect women more than men and research shows that an actual “heart ache” can cause a heart attack. Women are encouaged to stay mentally strong and healthy, stay social and active in the community to stay stroke free.
Next, if a woman is pregnant her risk increases thanks to estrogen, a hormone that increases while a woman is pregnant may increase blood clotting factors that increase stroke risks. Preeclampsia is also a concerning condition where high blood pressure occurs after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Women who are thinking of becoming pregnant are encouraged to research family history for heart disease. If this is the case, the medical professional can watch for signs of problems and suggest medications to prevent problems.
On the other hand, women who take “the pill” or oral contraceptives should consult with their doctor about the relationship between birth control pills, a family history of strokes and their chances of having a stroke. Women should not smoke if they take “the pill” because it raises the chances of blood clots, a factor in strokes.
High blood pressure is a key factor in both men and women, but high blood pressure’s effect is much stronger in women starting as early as their 30’s. Women with a family history of high blood pressure should discuss their risks with their doctor and make lifestyle adjustments to prevent strokes.
Lastly, is a woman experiences migraine headaches she is three times more likely to have a stroke than a man is. Migranes with aura, the type of migraine causes visual and sensory problems are associated with a much higher risk of stroke in both men and women. It’s important to note that just because one experiences migraines, doesn’t mean a stroke will happen, but it is important to discuss this with your physician.
Doctors will suggest lifestyle changes and heart healthy diets if a woman or man for that matter is at high risk of a stroke. Three signs that a stroke is happening is F.A.S.T. which stands for face dropping, arm weakness, speech difficulty and time to call 911.