If you are a woman, you have a one in five chance that you will have a stroke. One out of six men will have a stroke. Early reaction to the signs of a stroke may prevent much of the damage that can occur. Here’s what you need to know. You could
You might experience only one symptom. The key point is that this is a sudden change. Women are more likely to have confusion, headache and dizziness. Only 25% of women who have a stroke will fully recover. The faster you act when you see signs of a stroke in yourself or others, the better your chances of decreasing the damage from the stroke.
Face: Does one side of the face droop when you are asked to smile?
Arms: Does one arm drift downward when asked to raise both arms?
Speech: Is the speech slurred or strange when asked to repeat a simple phrase?
Time: If you observe any of these signs, call 911 immediately.
Source: National Stroke Association, Act FAST
Which women are at highest risk for a stroke?
Black women have the highest risk of stroke, followed by whites and then Hispanic women. Other risk factors include getting older (the risk rises with age). High blood pressure, excessive alcohol drinking, depression, obesity, diabetes, excessive sodium intake, elevated blood lipids, smoking, and drinking diet soda. Also, women who take estrogen supplements after menopause are at higher risk. There is also an association between women who have migraines with an aura (warning signs) and strokes. Atrial fibrillation, which can cause small blood clots to travel to the brain, can cause a stroke.
What can you do to reduce your risks?
Maintain a normal body weight. Eat a diet lower in sodium and cholesterol. Learn more about nutrition. Snack on fresh fruit and vegetables instead of cookies, white bread, and cakes. Control your blood pressure if it is increased. Drink less diet soda, which helps to decrease sodium intake. Stop smoking. (Smoking doubles your risk of stroke.) Ask your doctor about taking a baby aspirin a day to reduce your risk of a stroke.
You can reduce your risk of stroke by choosing a healthy lifestyle. Start today.
Source: Susan Simmons, Acute Stroke in Women, Nursing 2012, March 2012, page 30
Pat Iyer is a nurse who has cared for many people after stokes. She knows that prevention is the best way to handle this serious problem.
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