Topinka’s death shining light on women and stroke
This week’s news about the death of Illinois Comptroller, Judy Baar Topinka is getting people, especially women, talking about stroke.
Health experts say the condition sometimes affects women differently than their male counterparts.
“Women have unique stroke risk factors as opposed to men,” says Dr. Raina Gupta, a neurologist at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago. “Unique symptoms can include loss of consciousness or fainting, general weakness, confusion and even hiccups. These symptoms can seem unrecognizable to women so knowing the warning signs can help you in case of an emergency.”
Additional stroke risk factors for women include migraine headaches with aura, atrial fibrillation and sleep abnormalities, Dr. Gupta says. In addition, blood pressure and diabetes have been found to be greater risk factors for women than men, she says.
The National Stroke Association says that stroke is the third leading cause of death for women compared to the fifth leading cause of death for men. That is 55,000 more women than men have a stroke each year.
Stroke symptoms can come very quickly. Knowing the warning signs and acting fast can be the difference between life and death, Dr. Gupta notes. Symptoms, often called “suddens” are the key to identifying if you are having a stroke.
- SUDDEN numbness or weakness of face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
- SUDDEN confusion, trouble speaking, or understanding
- SUDDEN trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- SUDDEN trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
- SUDDEN severe headache with no known cause
Dr. Gupta also emphasizes that women should see their primary care physician for checkups and screening tests.
“It is important for women to maintain their blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugars in good control and talk to their doctors if they have any concerns,” Dr. Gupta says. “Remember that every minute counts so acting fast can save a life.”
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