Strokes are the fifth leading causes of death in our country, and for women it is the third leading cause of death. While much research has been done to identify warning signs, develop treatments for recovery, and medications to prevent them, women have unique medical considerations that can make it difficult for medical teams to diagnose and treat. Here are some things every woman should know about strokes.
Strokes can occur when either blood flow to the brain has been disrupted or because of excessive bleeding caused by blood clots. These are referred to as ischemic or hemorrhagic strokes.
Universal symptoms experienced by both males and females can include hiccups, nausea, numbness in the extremities, and severe headaches.
But, in addition to these general indicators of stroke, women can also experience such symptoms as agitation, loss of consciousness, hallucinations, shortness of breath, and seizures.
The National Stroke Association says that women are less likely to receive prompt medical care after experiencing a stroke and that women who have experienced a stroke often take longer to recover than men.
Universal risk factors include a family history of stroke, smoking, and being overweight, however women who use or have used birth control or who have experienced childbirth may be at higher than normal risk. Diet and red meat consumption is also considered when looking at risk factors.
Stress and hypertension are also considered factors, but more research needs to be done to see how these affect men and women differently.
Some lasting effects of stroke occur in about seventy five percent of patients. These can limit their ability to work and live independently. They can include physical, emotional, or mental side effects, and often may include all three. Paralysis and decreased motor function, memory and language skills, and behavioral disorders can all manifest, depending on the severity of the stroke and what part of the brain is affected.
Stroke prevention begins with making good lifestyle choices. Adjusting your diet to include less red meat and exercising portion control with meals is a good start. Also, moderating your alcohol consumption and staying away from drugs and cigarettes can go a long way. Learning stress management techniques, and getting regular cardio workouts can round out a holistic stroke prevention program.
Check out the video below to see signs of a heart attack as well and make sure you get checked out by your doctor often – it can be the difference between life and death.
If you are experiencing the warning signs of stroke, seek medical attention immediately. The earlier that doctors can intervene, the less damage will be done. New medications and surgical techniques have also been developed that can help limit the effects and speed up recovery, however they must be administered within a couple of hours of a stroke to be of use.
If you have already experienced a stroke, physical therapy and a special regimen of drugs will help heal the damage done. Between thirty and fifty percent of stroke victims experience depression after the stroke, suggesting that victims would also benefit from psychiatric care as well as physical therapy.
Do you know someone who has suffered a stroke? Were they able to recover or did it mark the beginning of a long decline in health? Please share your stories with us here.