HealthWACH: Lower your risk of stroke



Stroke kills twice as many women as breast cancer every year. However, women in a recent survey believed breast cancer is five times more prevalent than stroke and 40 percent of women said they were only somewhat or not at all concerned about experiencing a stroke in their life. One way to improve the odds for not having a stroke is to learn about the lifestyle changes and medicines that can lower your stroke risk.

Some risk factors are the same for both men and women. For example: smoking, diabetes, being overweight, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, not exercising, and family history. However, there are risks that are unique to women:

  • Being pregnant; stroke risk is greater during a normal pregnancy due to natural changes in the body, like blood pressure and stress on the heart.

  • Taking birth control pills.

  • Using Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT), a combined hormone therapy of estrogen and progestin, to relieve menopausal symptoms.

  • Having migraines frequently; migraines can increase a womanâ??s risk three to six times, and most Americans who suffer migraines are women.

  • Having a thick waist and high triglyceride (blood fat) level; post-menopausal women with a waist size larger than 35.2 inches and a triglyceride level higher than 128 milligrams per liter may have a five-fold increased risk for stroke.

Dr. Dawn Kleindorfer, Assistant Professor of Neurology at University of Cincinnati School of Medicine, says that stroke causes special problems for women. Stroke impacts women uniquely because they tend to be older when they have their stroke. Because of that fact, more women die from stroke than men. Also, women tend to have more disability and have trouble doing the activities of their daily living after their stroke.