You may be familiar with the classic symptoms of stroke, but did you know that in women these symptoms can be different? It is important to be informed, to know the symptoms and to be proactive to reduce the risks.
What are the most common symptoms of stroke?
By knowing the symptoms of a stroke in advance, you will be able to detect it early and get help for yourself or a loved one. As soon as you recognize a sign, it’s time to act immediately. Many people think their symptoms may be due to something else, but it’s best not to wonder and just seek medical help. Be on the lookout for:
- Sudden confusion or difficulty speaking.
- Sudden difficulty seeing with both eyes or even with one eye.
- Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, legs and arms (especially if unilateral).
- A sudden and intense headache for no reason.
Women can experience the classic symptoms, but they also usually experience unique symptoms. Understanding these symptoms as a woman is critical because the most effective stroke treatment is within the first three hours:
- General weakness.
- Fainting or loss of consciousness.
- Disorientation, unresponsiveness or confusion.
- Sudden change in behavior.
- Nausea and/or vomiting.
- Epileptic seizures.
- Loss of equilibrium.
- Difficulty speaking.
The risk of stroke in women and why is it higher?
In general, women have a relatively longer lifespan than men, but they are more likely to suffer from a stroke. This risk increases with age, making women more vulnerable to stroke. Apart from age, women are exposed to other risk factors:
- Post-menopausal changes : As we age, the risk of vascular disease increases, and certain conditions that appear after menopause may increase this risk. High blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol are some of these conditions.
- Migraines with aura : This condition can more than double a woman’s risk of stroke. In one study, it was found that in the presence of migraine with aura, the risk of ischemic stroke was doubled, compared to cases of migraine without aura.
- Hypertension : High blood pressure is one of the common but treatable risk factors for stroke and heart disease. Hypertension can develop for various reasons.
- Cerebrovascular disorders : Women are more prone to subarachnoid hemorrhages and aneurysms.
- Atrial fibrillation : Generally, the rate of atrial fibrillation is higher in women. Women are therefore exposed to a major risk of embolic stroke. Anyone with atrial fibrillation is five times more likely to have a stroke.
Prevention of strokes in women.
Even if you do everything possible to reduce your risk, you should keep the warning signs in mind because nothing is 100% effective. However, the following changes can help protect you.
- Control your blood pressure: High blood pressure is one of the main factors in stroke. In fact, it can double or even quadruple your risk if left unchecked. It is important to ensure that your blood pressure remains below 135/85.
- Try to lose weight : If you are considered overweight or obese, it may be linked to diabetes and high blood pressure, which will increase your risk of stroke. Even by losing 5 kg, you can significantly reduce your risk of stroke.
- Exercise : Exercise can not only help lose pounds and reduce blood pressure, but it can also help reduce the risk of stroke on its own.
- Drink in moderation : If you drink alcohol once a day, you can reduce your risk of stroke, but as soon as you start having more than two drinks a day, your risk increases dramatically.
- Treat atrial fibrillation : If you experience shortness of breath or heart palpitations, contact your doctor for an examination. If you are prescribed medication, be sure to take it as directed. You can lower your risk of stroke by treating this condition.