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Why Are Women at Higher Risk for Stroke Than Men?


It is estimated that one in five women will have a Stroke at some point in her life, and 55,000 more women than men suffer from Stroke each year.

May is American Stroke Month, a time for educating community members, family, friends, and others about steps we can all take to put an end to the nation’s fifth leading cause of death and number one cause of serious, long-term disability.

The good news, according to the American Stroke Association, is that 80% of strokes are preventable.

Birth Control, Hormone Replacement Therapy, Preeclamsia Can Elevate Risk

Stroke is the number three leading cause of death in women, and women who are pregnant, on birth control pills and taking hormone replacement therapy often face higher risk, according to Dr. Deepal Shah, Board-Certified Neurologist.

“About three out of 10,000 pregnant women have a Stroke during pregnancy, compared to two out of 10,000 women who are not pregnant,” said Dr. Shah, a member of the Texas Brain & Spine Institute team.

Formed in 2005 and now a partner with St. Joseph Health, TBSI encompasses several individual medical practices and research laboratories throughout Central Texas, offering neurological solutions.

Other patients at higher risk of Stroke include those diagnosed with:

  • Preeclamsia (high blood pressure developed during pregnancy)
  • Migraines with Aura (a condition that causes patients to see flashing or shimmering lights, zigzagging lines, stars or blind spots), who also smoke
  • Atrial Fibrillation (quivering or irregular heartbeat), who are over age 75

How Are Symptoms of Stroke Different for Women?

While the primary symptoms of Stroke are similar for men and women, women may experience unique symptoms, like sudden face and limb pain, shortness of breath, hiccups, heart palpitations, chest pain, nausea and general weakness, according to Dr. Shah.

Prevention is Key

Women and men have a number of tools at their disposal to prevent Stroke: controlling blood pressure, regular cholesterol screenings, smoking cessation, maintaining a healthy weight and exercising regularly, according to Dr. Shah.

Additionally, women with other potential risk factors can receive preventive health screenings and treatment to reduce the likelihood of Stroke.

Responsive, Quality, Expert Care Improves Outcomes

In the unfortunate event that you or a loved one experiences symptoms of Stroke, The Stroke Center at St. Joseph Health Regional Hospital is here for you.

The region’s first Joint Commission-certified Stroke Center, Regional Hospital is dedicated to improving patient outcomes, according to nationally-recognized, research-based guidelines established by the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association.

Demonstrating this commitment, our Stroke Center was awarded the AHA/ASA Get With the Guidelines® Gold Plus Achievement Award with Target: Stroke Honor Roll Elite and is an AHA/ASA-certified Primary Stroke Center.

St. Joseph Health also offers a full spectrum of rehabilitation services for Stroke patients, including Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy and Speech Therapy.

Schedule an appointment online today with a member of our multidisciplinary specialist team at TBSI, visit the website or call 979.776.8896. For more information on our Stroke Center, visit chistjoseph.org.

Sources:

American Heart Association/American Stroke Association

American Stroke Month

Why Are Women at Higher Risk for Stroke Than Men?

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