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Stroke Risk In Women-Causes And Prevention

Updated on August 6, 2009

What is STROKE?

Stroke is a No.1 killer of women,and creating awareness is imperative. Before we understand the symptoms of a stroke,let us understand what a stroke is and why it occurs.

The brain needs a continual blood supply for optimal function. What happens when there is not sufficient blood supply to this major organ? When a blood vessel in the brain is blocked due to clots, stroke occurs. Blood flow to the brain is impaired.Those strokes are called ischemic strokes. Other strokes, called bleeding or hemorrhagic strokes, happen when a blood vessel in the brain leaks or bursts.

Stroke Risk Factors-Am I At Risk

Surveys conducted by researchers show that the most vulnerable are educated, and affluent. Obese women top this list,though they are very much aware of the risk of obesity,they often tend to ignore warning signs of a stroke and continue a sedentary lifestyle with no proper eating habits. A particular survey conducted among 200 white women between ages 50 & 73, concludes that all of them had at least one major risk factor for stroke,such as hypertension,diabetes,high cholesterol,and irregular heart rhythm(also known as atrial fibrillation). The survey also showed that these women,particular those with heart disease and diabetes, were aware of stroke as a risk factor,but the remaining did not even think that they could be at risk. They rarely or never worried about stroke.

It is largely perceived that stroke occurs generally in older men and most women are not aware of the fact that in older women strokes can be bigger and more disabling than for men. It is therefore necessary for women and their men to know that stroke can be a risk factor that cannot be ignored.

Research also shows that women between ages 45 -54 are at higher risk than their male counter parts. Also women with more belly fat are prone to stroke.

Stroke Risk Factors-Am I At Risk

  • Lack of exercise and
  • High cholesterol are the top risk factors for stroke.
  • Being overweight and obese
  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • Alcohol abuse

are additional risk factors.

Stroke Warning Signs-How To Recognize Them

  • Weakness or numbness
  • Sudden changes in vision
  • Headache
  • Loss of balance or dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Sudden speech impairment
  • Brief loss of consciousness

Bystanders should take action when a woman shows stroke symptoms


Early treatment is imperative as it can save life as well as can be less disabling and the person can continue to lead a normal active life. Recognizing the symptoms and immediately rushing to a doctor is called for. Drugs that bust clots are immediately administered to save the life and minimize the effects of the stroke,but this can be given only within the first few hours of the appearance of the first symptoms of the stroke.

It is found that those with the greatest risk are least aware and so creating awareness among not just the women at risk but also their families and in general, every one needs to be able to recognize such symptoms and take immediate action.

My father suffered this suddenly and recognised it one night after dinner when he went to brush his teeth,he was unable to hold water in his mouth. He was immediately rushed to the nearest hospital even as my mother watched one side of his face droop more pronouncedly.

Some years later, it was my mother's turn. She was attending a wedding when she suddenly felt a numbness on her right cheek,but ignored it. Soon, she felt her eyelids droop and when she tried to speak to someone,they immediately asked her if she was alright because her speech was slurred. She continued to ignore these symptoms until my father insisted she be checked by a doctor. Upon arrival, the doctor immediately administered the injections that bust the clots which is also life saving. Damage was minimal for both my parents since they had been rushed quick for immediate medical attention. Both had to endure a droopy lop sided face for a few months and were undergoing physiotherapy as well. Today,both are normal and their faces near perfect,although my mother's eyes tend to droop or close suddenly. My mother is going to be 70 years old and my father 75.

So, how does one recognize the symptoms-whether in a colleague or family member?

  1. WALK Is their balance off?
  2. TALK Is their speech suddenly slurred?
  3. REACH Is one side numb or droopy?
  4. SEE Is their vision blurred or completely lost?
  5. FEEL Is their headache severe?


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