Stroke warning signs are different for women

The American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association has recently released a new set of guidelines to point out the unique risks for strokes for women.

Symptoms that may indicate stroke are often overlooked because there is no pain, such as loss of balance, inability to move an arm or loss of coherent speech.

The guidelines—which are the first to be released specifically for women—detail unique stroke risks:  

  • Women who develop dangerously high blood pressure while pregnant—a condition known as preeclampsia—have twice the risk of having a stroke later in life compared to those who had healthy pregnancies.
  • Taking oral contraceptives can raise a woman's risk of high blood pressure, and therefore, stroke.
  • Migraines with visual aura—a condition that women are four times more likely to suffer from than men—have also been linked to an increased stroke risk.

To reduce stroke risk, the report recommends physicians:

  • Screen women for high blood pressure before prescribing oral contraceptives;
  • Consider prescribing pregnant women with a history of high blood pressure low-dose aspirin or calcium supplement therapy;
  • Ask patients if patients suffered preeclampsia during their pregnancy; and
  • Prescribe pregnant women with moderately high blood pressure hypertension medication.

To learn more about stroke in women, please call the Women’s Health Network at 315-464-2756 or toll-free at 855-890-UWHN.