This is the third leading cause of death in women, but the fifth in men

This is the third leading cause of death in women, but the fifth in men

Did you know – every year, strokes kill two times as many women as breast cancer?

And your risk of stroke is greater if you’re a female due to a variety of factors like birth control pill use, pregnancy, hormone replacement therapy and a higher likelihood of migraines with aura. In fact, stroke is the third leading cause of death for women compared to the fifth leading cause of death for men.

In addition, women are more likely to:

  • Live alone when they have a stroke
  • Live in or move to a long-term health care facility after a stroke
  • Have a worse recovery

Thus, knowing common stroke symptoms is important for both sexes, but understanding the unique symptoms that often present themselves in women is essential, as these less common symptoms are often not recognized as a sign of a stroke, which can delay treatment.

So what do you need to know?

“The most common stroke symptoms for both genders include sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg (especially on one side of the body), sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding others, sudden trouble seeing out of one or both eyes, sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination or a sudden headache with no cause,” says Lynn Klassman, an advanced practice nurse with the stroke program at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill.

“For women, there are other unique signs to keep any eye out for as a symptom of a stroke. Those less widely known signs include loss of consciousness or fainting, general weakness, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, nausea or vomiting, pain, seizures and hiccups.”

Knowing the symptoms are critical, but also understanding if you’re at risk can save your life, says Klassman. Up to 80 percent of strokes are preventable, and many of the risk factors are in your control.

Along with age and previous stroke or heart attack, which can increase your risk of stroke, Klassman says other risk factors include:

  • Family history
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Obstructive sleep apnea — when people have trouble breathing during sleep
  • High-fat, low-nutrient diet
  • Physical inactivity
  • Obesity

Concerned about your risk for stroke?

Take our Stroke Risk Assessment to estimate your chance of experiencing one and learn about the ways you could minimize it.

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One Comment

  1. Some of the signs you listed are very similar to signs for panic and anxiety attacks, which for some are brought on by stress and women tend to suffer from panic and anxiety attacks more then men.
    For those of us who suffer from panic and anxiety attacks it is extremely important to know what your triggers are for the attacks especially as we get older.
    I have suffered from panic and anxiety attacks for nearly 40 years and am very attuned to the signs, but as i get older (62), I do worry about maybe some of these signs could be signs of a stroke.
    I’m a firm believer that no one knows their body better than ones self. I have always gone with my gut (even if it’s not textbook or my doctor may disagree). Self awareness and trusting your instinct/s can has served me well over the years, but I also have the common sense to error on the side of caution and make my doctor aware of my signs/symptoms…………..two heads are always better than one.

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About the Author

Jackie Hughes
Jackie Hughes

Jacqueline Hughes is a former manager, media relations at Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. Previously, she was the public affairs and marketing manager at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, IL. She earned her BA in psychology at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. Jackie has 10 plus years experience working in television and media and most recently worked at NBC 5 in Chicago. In her free time, she enjoys swimming, going to the movies and spending time with her family.