Overall, stroke is this country’s third-leading killer. About 700,000 Americans will have one this year, according to the American Stroke Association.
But 55-percent of all strokes and 60-percent of stroke deaths occur in women.
About 100,000 women die annually of stroke, 40,000 more than the number of men who die from it. The fact that risk goes up with age and women live longer account for a large portion of that difference.
Strokes can affect younger women as well, including after childbirth when the blood is more likely to clot — probably an evolutionary adaptation so new mothers don’t bleed to death, says Dr. David Sherman, chief of neurology at the University of Texas Health Science Center.
And for women who have migraine headaches — about 18 percent of women do — and those who smoke and take oral contraceptives, there is more risk of stroke.
Twice as many women die from stroke every year than from breast cancer
That is why I’ve posted the following Harvard Medical report. LEARN the early warning signs of stroke. Inconvenient Women know their bodies and are proactive about their health. For more information go to ‘Stoke Facts In America‘
|September 23, 2008
3 warning signs of stroke
You know the signs of a stroke. Or do you? You’d probably recognize the classic symptoms, such as sudden weakness on one side of the body or blurred vision, but often the signs are much less obvious. A crushing headache may come on without warning. Your face may feel numb. You may have inexplicable trouble speaking or following what people say.
Knowing all the warning signs of a stroke may one day save your life and well-being. That’s because the faster you recognize the symptoms, the sooner you can get medical help. And prompt treatment is the key to shielding your brain from a stroke’s damage and sparing you serious disabilities such as paralysis, speech impairment, and dementia.
Every 45 seconds, someone in the United States has a stroke. Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States and other industrial countries, trailing only heart disease and cancer. In the United States, about 700,000 people have a stroke each year. If you have a stroke, the risk of dying from it increases with age: 88% of deaths from stroke are in people 65 and older. About two-thirds of people who have a stroke have some resulting disability and require rehabilitation.
The odds of having a stroke more than double for each decade after age 55. Two-thirds of strokes involve people over 65. Men and women are about equally likely to have a stroke, but women have a greater risk of dying from one. Race is another risk factor. African-Americans, for example, are almost twice as likely to suffer a stroke as are whites.
Although you can’t change your age or race, you can take steps to reduce other risk factors for stroke, especially ischemic stroke. The most common risk factors for both ischemic stroke and TIAs (transient ischemic attacks, or “mini strokes”) are high blood pressure (hypertension), diabetes, unhealthy cholesterol levels, and obesity. All of these factors affect the health of your blood vessels — increasing the risk not only of stroke, but also of heart disease. That’s why medications and other steps you take to reduce the risk of an ischemic stroke will also benefit your heart.
Some types of hemorrhagic strokes are more likely to occur in people with chronic high blood pressure. But other types of hemorrhagic strokes seemingly strike out of the blue. Although abnormal blood vessel conditions such as an aneurysm (a bubble in the blood vessel wall that could rupture) or an arteriovenous malformation (an abnormal tangle of blood vessels) increase the risk, these conditions may only be discovered inadvertently while you are undergoing testing for something else or may not be discovered until a stroke occurs.
Fortunately, medicine has made considerable strides in understanding how to treat and prevent strokes. Medical imaging devices now enable medical teams to begin to diagnose a stroke accurately within minutes. Large studies have clarified which medications and other treatments are best for which patients. For those who need rehabilitation, experimental techniques are showing promise in helping patients make better progress than was possible even just a few years ago.
Reprinted from Stroke: Preventing and treating “brain attack” — A Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School, Copyright © 2008 by Harvard University. All rights reserved.
|Harvard Medical School offers special reports on over 50 health topics. Visit our Web site at http://www.health.harvard.edu to find reports of interest to you and your family.
Copyright 2008 by Harvard University.