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What Are the Telling Symptoms of an Oncoming Stroke in Women?

F.A.S.T. in action is critical for stroke survival. When beaming, does one side of the face appear to droop? Arms: When both arms are outstretched, does one arm drift downward? Is speech peculiar or slurred when a basic phrase is repeated? In the event that you observe any of the following indicators, dial 9-1-1 without delay.

The fifth leading cause of mortality among women is stroke. Stroke affects one in five women between the ages of 55 and 75 in the United States.

Acquired by surprise? You have company. Numerous women are unaware of their mortality risk for stroke.

Despite the alarming nature of these statistics, there is cause for optimism: four out of every five strokes are preventable. Therefore, it is critical to be aware of your stroke risk and to take precautions to safeguard your health. 

Define a stroke

A stroke, also referred to as a brain attack, transpires due to the obstruction of blood flow to a specific region of the brain or the rupture of a blood vessel within the brain. Oxygen is transported to body cells by the blood. Brain cells perish when they are deprived of blood supply.

A stroke constitutes an urgent medical condition. As soon as feasible, it is critical to act F.A.S.T. and seek treatment (see sidebar). Immediately dial 9-1-1 if you or a person in your vicinity exhibits any symptoms consistent with a stroke.

Certain therapies for stroke are only effective if administered within three hours of the onset of symptoms. Delaying treatment raises the potential for irreversible cerebral impairment or fatality.

What increases the risk of stroke in women?

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a significant risk factor for stroke.

Over two-fifths of women have a blood pressure of 130/80 mm Hg or higher, or are utilizing medication to regulate their blood pressure. A mere 1% of these women maintain a blood pressure level below 130/80 mm Hg under control.

The risk of suffering a stroke rises with age. Since women live longer on average than males, a greater proportion of women suffer strokes during their lifetimes.

Additionally, women have distinct stroke risk factors, which include:

Developing hypertension while pregnant.

Utilizing specific forms of contraceptive pills, particularly in the presence of tobacco use. One-ninth of women are smokers.

Possessing elevated levels of depression.

Why do African American women have a greater stroke risk?

African American women are at a significantly higher risk of mortality from stroke compared to non-Hispanic White women and Hispanic women in the United States.Stroke mortality is most prevalent among African Americans, surpassing that of all other racial and ethnic groups.

African American women are diagnosed with elevated blood pressure (greater than or equal to 130/80 mm Hg) at a significantly higher rate (nearly 2 in 5) than their white counterparts.Eight African American women are diagnosed with diabetes (over 1 in 8) and obesity (nearly 3 in 5) at higher rates than white women; these conditions increase the risk of stroke.A significant proportion of individuals in the United States, including African Americans, exceed the recommended sodium and salt intake, leading to elevated blood pressure and an increased susceptibility to stroke.

A stroke may result from sickle cell disease, a prevalent genetic disorder among African Americans. Approximately 1 in 365 infants of African American descent are born with sickle cell disease.

Stroke risk is severely increased by smoking. One-eighth of African American women are smokers.

What factors contribute to Hispanic women being susceptible to stroke?

Hypertension constitutes a significant risk factor in the development of stroke. Over one-third of Hispanic women have a blood pressure greater than 130/90 mm Hg.Eight diabetics have an increased risk of suffering a stroke. Over 1 in 9 Hispanic women are diagnosed with diabetes, with a considerable number remaining unaware of their condition. Diabetes is most prevalent among adults of Hispanic descent of Mexican and Puerto Rican descent.

Obesity elevates the likelihood of suffering a stroke. Approximately 50% of Hispanic women are overweight.

How can stroke be avoided?

Hypertension constitutes a significant risk factor in the development of stroke. Regularly monitoring your blood pressure will assist your medical staff in the early detection of any potential issues.

The majority of strokes are preventable through the management of medical conditions and the adoption of healthful lifestyle habits:

Recognize the ABCS of mental and heart health:

Aspirin: By preventing blood clotting, aspirin may help reduce your risk of stroke; however, you should consult your doctor before taking aspirin to ensure that it is safe for you.

Blood pressure: Manage your blood pressure by adopting a healthy lifestyle (refer to the section below) and taking your blood pressure medications as prescribed. Expand your knowledge of blood pressure.

To effectively manage cholesterol, it is advisable to adopt a healthy lifestyle and adhere to the prescribed medication regimen. Gain a deeper understanding of cholesterol.

Smoking: Avoid beginning to smoke. If you are a smoker, educate yourself on quitting methods.

Change your lifestyle by:

Opt for nutritious foods over the majority of the time, including those that are low in sodium (which can lower blood pressure) and high in fiber and whole grains (which can help regulate cholesterol). Engage in regular physical activity: Consistent physical activity maintains your heart and blood vessels healthy and helps you achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Discover motivation and advice for engaging in consistent physical activity through the "Live to the Beat" initiative.

Collaborate with your medical team:

Consult your physician regarding your risk of suffering a stroke, taking into account factors such as your age and any familial history of the condition. Discover how to locate an appropriate physician through the "Live to the Beat" initiative and how to adopt a heart-healthy lifestyle by taking incremental measures through the "Start Small. Live Big." campaign.

Manage additional medical conditions, including diabetes and cardiovascular disease.


Seshadri S, Beiser A, Kelly-Hayes M, et al. The lifetime risk of stroke: estimates from the Framingham Study. Stroke. 2006;37(2):345-350.

Tsao CW, Aday AW, Almarzooq ZI, Beaton AZ, Bittencourt MS, Boehme AK, et al. Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics—2023 Update: A Report From the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2023;147:e93–e621.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vital Signs: Preventing Stroke Deaths. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; 2017. Accessed May 4, 2022.

. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; 2023. Accessed March 1, 2023.

National Center for Health Statistics. FastStats: Women’s Health. Accessed May 4, 2022.

National Institute of Mental Health. Women and Mental Health

. Accessed May 4, 2022.

. NCHS Data Brief, no 364. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2020.

National Center for Health Statistics. FastStats: Health of Black or African American non-Hispanic Population. Accessed May 4, 2022.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Diabetes Statistics Report website. Accessed May 4, 2022.

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Sickle Cell Disease Causes and Risk Factors

. Accessed May 4, 2022.

National Center for Health Statistics. FastStats: Health of Hispanic or Latino Population. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2022. Accessed May 4, 2022.

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