Stroke is the third leading cause of death in women. A stroke occurs when a blood clot blocks a blood vessel in the brain or a vessel ruptures and bleeds in the brain tissue. Women, unfortunately tend to be at higher risk than men.
Specific risk factors in women include migraine with aura ( primarily visual changes before the migraine), atrial fibrillation (irregular heart beat), obesity, abnormal blood sugars (metabolic syndrome) and high blood pressure. Even depression and emotional stress are added risk factors.
Women are just different.
The risk in women is due to gender and genetics. Our natural hormone cycles, genetic differences in immunity and reproductive factors ( pregnancy or the use of birth control pills) all effect clotting. Women’s differences not only elevates their risk for stroke, but also influences their outcome after a stroke. Not a good statistic considering women live longer than men.
So what can you do?
Consider a low-dose aspirin everyday or every other day especially if you’re 65 and older (unless bleeding is a concern).
Know your numbers..that is your blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol and BMI (body mass index) and stop smoking.
Consider a carotid intima media thickness test (CIMT). This is an ultrasound of the carotid arteries that measures the thickness of the blood vessels and identifies plaque that could lead to obstruction of the arteries. It can also identify risk of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
Stroke prevention begins early in life by managing risk factors. Start now…