Why Women Need to Pay Attention to Stroke Risks

Women-Stroke-Infographic-ThumbnailWomen face some unique circumstances that can increase their risk for stroke, according to new prevention guidelines from the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.

One of those is preeclampsia, which is defined as high blood pressure and excess protein in the urine after 20 weeks of pregnancy in women who previously had normal blood pressure, according to the Mayo Clinic. Women with preeclampsia have double the risk for a stroke later in life.

“A diagnosis of preeclampsia during pregnancy has significant health implications across a woman’s lifespan,” said Amanda O’Brien, MD, an OB-GYN with Memorial Physician Services-Women’s Healthcare. “It cannot be ignored.”

Pregnancy is also an increased risk factor. About three out of 10,000 pregnant women have a stroke during pregnancy compared to two out of 10,000 women who are not pregnant. Birth control pills may double the risk of stroke. See the accompanying infographic from the AHA/ASA for other risk factors for women and what they can do about them.

About 55,000 more women have strokes in the United States each year than men, and stroke kills more women each year than men. Stroke is the third leading cause of death in women, and the fourth in men. In 2010, more than 77,000 women died of stroke compared to more than 52,000 men.

(click here to enlarge: Stroke Infographic)