Symptoms in Women

Symptoms of Stroke in Women

Women account for about 6 in 10 stroke deaths. While men are more likely to have a stroke, women are more likely to die from one.

Risk factors for women

Along with the shared risk factors of stroke for both genders, women can have some unique risks, including:

  • Birth control pills: Taking oral contraceptives can nearly double the risk of stroke, particularly in women over the age of 35 years.
  • Pregnancy: The risk of stroke increases during all pregnancy because of changes in blood pressure and stress on the heart.
  • Hormone replacement therapy: Used to relieve the symptoms of menopause, hormone replacement therapy can increase the risk of stroke.
  • Thick waist and high blood fat (triglyceride) level: Common to women, these factors may increase the risk of stroke five times over.
  • Migraines: Migraines increase the risk of stroke three to six times in women.
  • Obesity
  • Atrial Fibrillation: Atrial fibrillation is a type of irregular heartbeat that is more common in women.

Symptoms of stroke in women

During a stroke, both men and women often report that the following signs appear suddenly:

  • Numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • Trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Difficulty walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Severe headache with no known cause

Women, however, may also have hiccups, nausea, chest pain, fatigue, shortness of breath and a racing heartbeat.

Being aware of all of these symptoms can save your life. It may also lower your risk for disability. Compared with men, women have a lower quality of life after a stroke.

Think FAST

The National Stroke Association’s acronym FAST can help you quickly determine whether someone is having a stroke:

  • F (Face): Ask the person to smile. Does one side of his or her face droop?
  • A (Arms): Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
  • S (Speech): Ask for a simple phrase (such as,“You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”) to be repeated. Is speech slurred or hard to understand?
  • T (Time): If you observe any of these signs, call 911 immediately.

If you or someone else has any of these symptoms, act FAST and call 911. With stroke, time lost is brain lost.

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