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Stroke Signs Different in Women, Many Ignore Them, Warn Experts

Callie Earliwine checks on a patient at Ohio Valley Medical Center in West Virginia where she works as a critical care nurse. (Photo: http://wexnermedical.osu.edu/)

Callie Earliwine checks on a patient at Ohio Valley Medical Center in West Virginia where she works as a critical care nurse. (Photo: http://wexnermedical.osu.edu/)

When it comes to women, rarely do they notice any symptoms of an impending stroke and if it strikes, they refuse to undergo proper rehab and suffer nervous damage and depression often, say experts.

In a survey of 1,000 women by Ohio State University, half of those questioned revealed that they never bothered to know what problems women they face after stroke. Only 11 percent of them could correctly identify pregnancy, lupus, migraine and oral contraception or harmone replacement therapy, besides women-centric stroke risks.

Only 10 percent of those surveyed were aware of problems related to chest pain or early warnings of a stroke, which is the third leading cause of death for women, as per the US National Stroke Association (NSA) figures.

Finding it difficult to educate women when it comes to stroke and their unique risk factors, Dr. Diana Greene-Chandos, director of neuroscience critical care at Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center, said: “Things like pregnancy, hormone replacement therapy and even something as trivial as a case of the hiccups can all play an important role
when it comes to strokes in women, and we need to be more aware of it.”

However, some risk factors like smoking, no exercise, high BP, hemoglobin count of A1C of more than 7 in diabetics and 5.7 if not, LDL cholesterol of less than 100 if you are without additional stroke risks, or less than 70 with additional stroke risks, particularly diabetes are same in men and women, said the doctors.

Pointing out that there several online assessments or simple pen-and-paper tests are available to evaluate stroke risk, Greene-Chandos said, “Women and men should really on focus keeping their blood pressure under 140/90, because having high blood pressure consistently puts people at risk for having a stroke.”

But in women distinct symptoms of stroke may include hiccups, dizziness that is not classic vertigo, headaches, atypical chest pain or numbness of the entire body with one side being more numb than the other.

“They actually can have hiccups with a little bit of chest pain with their stroke symptoms, sometimes sending them down the pathway of looking for either heart disease or indigestion,” said Greene-Chandos.

Pregnancy also increases their risk of stroke, particularly in the final months and immediately after delivering the child, she said.

About 795,000 Americans suffer stroke and more than 137,000 people die from stroke in the US every year. And 60 percent of stroke deaths occur in women and 40 percent in males, according to the American Heart Association (AHA) and American Stroke Association (ASA).

The rate at which these ailments are occurring is also alarming. Every 40 seconds a stroke occurs and it kills someone every four minutes in the United States, to quote AHA/ASA fugures.

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