Strokes Don't Discriminate
Women don't realize they're at risk
High blood pressure, high cholesterol, and obesity all place a woman at risk for stroke. But diabetes, which disproportionately affects women after the age of 45, and pregnancy can also increase risk. For reasons that aren't completely clear, migraine headaches, especially with auras (characterized by visual disturbances such as lights or blind spots), are linked to stroke—even in women under 40. Migraines, high blood pressure, and smoking are particularly dangerous for women who take oral contraceptives. If you have any of these factors, talk to your doctor about ways to reduce your stroke risk.
Women have different symptoms
A woman experiencing a stroke is more likely to feel face and limb pain, shortness of breath, hiccups, or nausea than classic symptoms like numbness on one side of the body or dimming or loss of vision. That means not only that women are less likely to rush to the ER when a stroke hits (they take up to 46 percent longer to get to the hospital than men) but also that doctors can miss the signs. If you're in a high-risk category and have symptoms, don't hesitate to go to the ER and inform doctors as soon as you arrive that you may have suffered a stroke. The more quickly you are treated, the better your chances of recovery.