2017-10-12 / Healthy Living

What women should know about stroke

Did you know that Oct. 29 is World Stroke Day? Millions of people come together to help spread the word about this debilitating disease, prevention and treatment. As someone who has lost loved ones to stroke, and the CEO of a state-designated Comprehensive Stroke Center, I’d like to take this opportunity to address the women of our community, and their loved ones, to help raise awareness about this health condition that also affects women of all races and ages.

Stroke symptoms

Men vs. women

Women and men experience many of the same symptoms of stroke:

• Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg

• Difficulty speaking

• Problems with vision

• Loss of balance or coordination

• Sudden onset of a severe headache for no known cause.

However, some signs of stroke are unique to women, such as:

• Rapid onset of hiccups

• Nausea

• Fatigue

• Chest, face and/or limb pain

• Shortness of breath or heart palpitations.

Experiencing stroke symptoms?

The signs of stroke require immediate attention. It’s important to know the signs and symptoms of stroke before it’s too late. The easiest way to do this is to remember the acronym FAST:

• Face Drooping

• Arm Weakness

• Speech Difficulty

• Time to Call 9-11

Make sure to note the time when your first symptoms occurred, as the responding medical providers will need to know.

Strokes caused by blood clots, called ischemic strokes, are the most common type and can be treated with the clot-busting drug tPA, or tissue plasminogen activator. In order to be effective, this medication must be administered within three hours of the initial onset of symptoms.

Anticoagulants, such as warfarin, and anti-platelet drugs, such as aspirin, may be prescribed to help prevent a stroke in people who are high risk. In other cases, surgery may be recommended to help treat or prevent stroke.

Risk factors

While a person of any age can have a stroke, the risk increases with age. Other risk factors include a family history of stroke, high blood pressure or cholesterol, smoking, diabetes, being overweight and not exercising.

Women have some exclusive risk factors that could raise their risk of having a stroke, which include:

• Taking birth control pills (Generally, it is safe for young, healthy women to take birth control pills.)

• Experiencing natural changes in the body during pregnancy that increase blood pressure and put stress on the heart

• Using hormone replacement therapy to relieve symptoms of menopause

• Suffering from migraines

Prevention

The good news is that there are steps to help prevent stroke. Women can reduce the risk of stroke by:

• Not smoking

• Keeping blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels at reasonable numbers

• Limiting alcohol

Award-winning neurology care at St. Mary’s Medical Center

The Comprehensive Stroke Center at St. Mary’s Medical Center has been healing stroke patients for nearly a decade. During this time, we have been recognized on multiple occasions with the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Get With The Guidelines®-Stroke Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award with Target: StrokeSM Honor Roll-Elite Plus, the organization’s highest honor.

Although our Comprehensive Stroke Center team has earned this prestigious recognition through their tireless efforts, our true goal is helping you or your loved one regain the highest level of function possible following a stroke. If you or a loved one start showing symptoms that may be indicative of a stroke, call 911 immediately. To schedule a complimentary stroke screening, please call 888-901-0861 or visit www.StMarysMC.com/events. ¦

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