Stroke Risk for Women

April 01, 2014 / Kristy Huffman,RN

Stroke Risk for Women

Did you know that women face a higher risk of stroke than men? Stroke is the number three cause of death in women. For the first time, the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association have developed guidelines specific and unique to women to help prevent stroke.

Cheryl Bushnell, M.D., M.H.S., author of the new scientific statement published in the American Heart Association’s journal Stroke explains that, “If you are a woman, you share many of the same risk factors for stroke with men, but your risk is also influenced by hormones, reproductive health, pregnancy, childbirth and other sex-related factors.”

Risk factors that are similar for both sexes and can be changed, treated and/or controlled are: high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, cigarette smoking, diabetes, coronary artery disease or peripheral arterial disease, atrial fibrillation, lack of exercise and poor diet.

However, risk factors that are specific to women include:

- Pregnancy

- Preeclampsia (high blood pressure and high protein levels in urine during pregnancy)

- Birth control pills

- Hormone replacement after menopause

- Women who smoke and have migraines with aura (migraine with sensory symptoms like flashes of light, blind spots, tingling in your hand or face)

- Atrial fibrillation (abnormal heartbeat)

Strokes can affect anyone at any age. If you identify with one or more of these risk factors, talk to your health care provider about how to lower your risk for stroke.

For additional information, read more below:

Learn how to spot a stroke F.A.S.T.:

For further reading: