Stroke in Women- Women are MORE at Risk !

Stroke in Women has its specific causes and symptoms, besides the general ones, and some pertain to conditions prevailing in India.

The National Commission on Macroeconomics and Health in India in a 2005 study projects about 1.6 million cases of stroke in India by 2015 with death occurring in one-fourth of the cases. Although,gender-wise data are not available for stroke in India, women have a higher incidence of stroke across the world. In the United States, stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in men, whereas it is the third leading cause of death in women. More than half of the new strokes occur in women and one out of every five women with stroke die.
In India, not only are the women less likely to receive medical care, they are also at increased risk of having a stroke because of the following reasons:

  1. Pregnancy and High blood pressure: Women are more likely to have a stroke during pregnancy. High blood pressure during pregnancy also places the women at risk of having a stroke even after the pregnancy. Development of diabetes during pregnancy also increases the risk of stroke. Timely treatment of high blood pressure and diabetes during pregnancy helps to mitigate the risk.
  2. Birth control pills: Oral birth control pills carry a higher risk of stroke, especially in combination with high blood pressure and smoking.
  3. Hormone replacement therapy: Is known to increase the risk of stroke
  4. Stroke following child birth is more common in rural India than in the urban setting due to improper aseptic precautions during child birth and dehydration in the mother
  5. Improper aseptic precautions during termination of pregnancy by quacks is again more common in rural India than in the urban setting. Infection following termination of pregnancy is a risk factor for stroke
  6. Increased prevalence of brain aneurysms (causing brain bleed) in women
  7. Women with Migraines associated with specific symptoms (aura) are associated with increased risk of stroke
  8. Higher prevalence of heart disease in women
  9. Obesity is twice as common in women than in men in India
  10. Lower level of education and awareness among women
Are the symptoms of stroke in women different?
In addition to the typical symptoms of stroke (facial droop, arm or leg weakness and difficulty in speech), women with stroke may experience the following symptoms
  • sudden face and arm/leg pain
  • sudden hiccups
  • sudden nausea
  • sudden general weakness
  • sudden chest pain
  • sudden shortness of breath
  • sudden palpitations
  • unresponsiveness
  • disorientation
  • confusion
  • sudden behavioral change
  • agitation

 

Having a stroke is one of the most devastating and ‘life changing’ event. Timely recognition of risk factors for stroke in women is very important so that appropriate steps can be taken to prevent its occurrence. The difference in symptoms of stroke in men and women should also be kept in mind. Finally, the term ‘FASTER’ should always be remembered in the event of a stroke
F – Face droop
A – Arm or leg weakness
S – Speech difficulty
T – Time from onset of symptoms
E – Early – Seek medical advice immediately
R – Restore – Restore blood supply to the brain

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