Did you know that women face a higher risk of stroke than men? In fact,
stroke is the No. 4 killer of women.
“Women make up more than half of the nearly 800,000 people in the
U.S. who have a stroke each year. Many are left disabled. Others have
their lives cut tragically short,” said Becky Hildebrand, the coordinator of
BCH’s award-winning stroke program, during a free Go Red for Women lecture held on Feb. 7 at the Lafayette
What’s more, strokes aren’t just an old-person problem.
“The truth is, stroke affects women of all ages, especially those
in midlife. The number of women ages 45 to 54 being afflicted by stroke
is increasing,” she warned.
The good news is that simply understanding their unique risk factors and
recognizing symptoms can empower women to prevent and treat stroke before
they suffer serious complications.
Identify your modifiable risk factors
Both women and men share many of the same risk factors. According to Hildebrand,
up to 80 percent of all strokes are preventable through managing these risks:
Hypertension (the No. 1 risk factor)
A few other factors put women at higher risk for stroke:
Birth control pills, especially with high blood pressure
Hormone replacement therapies for menopause relief
Migraines with aura and smoking
Pregnancy and preeclampsia (or high blood pressure)
Atrial fibrillation (type of irregular heartbeat)
Hildebrand said women should talk to their health care provider about how
to lower their risk if they have one of the above risk factors.
“Signs of stroke in women and men are similar. Yet few women recognize the
subtler warning signs. They sometimes have more vague complaints,”
Warning signs include:
Sudden drooping to ONE side of face
Sudden numbness or weakness of ONE arm or leg
Sudden confusion or trouble understanding
Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
Sudden severe headache with no known cause
Time is of the essence
Research shows that patients who take a clot-busting drug within three hours of their
first stroke symptom can reduce long-term disability. Therefore, it’s
crucial to get to the emergency room quickly.
“Two million brain cells may die every minute during an untreated
stroke. When it comes to recovery, time is of the essence,” Hildebrand
said. “If you think someone is having a stroke, immediately call
9-1-1 or the Emergency Medical Services number. Also, check the time so you’ll know when the first symptoms appeared.”
BCH is a primary stroke center
BCH has been awarded
Advanced Certification as a Primary Stroke Center by The Joint Commission and the American Heart Association/American Stroke
To learn more about our primary stroke center,