In the U.S., stroke is the 5th leading cause of death for men but the 3rd leading cause of death for women. In fact, stroke kills twice as many women as breast cancer. Women in general tend to live longer than men so more women tend to live alone when they become a stroke victim, have a worse recovery after stroke, and are more likely to reside in a nursing home after a stroke. Rapid recognition of stroke symptoms and calling 9-1-1 to help fast are incredibly important to prevent long term disability from stroke. Many times the acronym “FAST” or “5 Suddens” are used to help people remember the signs and symptoms of stroke.
- Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body.
- Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding.
- Sudden trouble seeing or blurred vision in one or both eyes.
- Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.
- Sudden severe headache with no known cause.
Women tend to downplay their symptoms and not want to go to a hospital. You could be having a stroke even if you’re not experiencing all of the symptoms. The most effective treatments are only available if the symptoms are recognized within 4.5 hours of onset. Experts in stroke care recommend you should never wait more than five-10 minutes to dial 9-1-1 if you or a loved one experience even one of the signs above. Remember that every minute counts and acting FAST can save a life!
General risk factors for stroke include family history, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, smoking, lack of exercise, and being overweight. But there are some unique risk factors for women. Women who take estrogen replacement therapy, are pregnant, take birth control pills, or suffer migraines with auras are at higher risk of stroke. You can decrease your risk by stopping smoking, incorporating at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day, managing your blood pressure, and getting screened for atrial fibrillation if older than 75 years of age. Taking these steps can help save a life-Yours!
Hutchinson Regional Medical Center is recognized by the Joint Commission as a Primary Stroke Center achieving the highest standards of care in the care of stroke patients.