Did you know that stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in America, and the number one cause for adult disability? Strokes occur in 425,000 women per year, and affect four out of five families in the course of a lifetime! Stroke.org defines a stroke as a “brain attack,” when a blood clot blocks an artery, or a blood vessel breaks, interrupting blood flow to a part of the brain. When either of these takes place, brain cells begin to die and brain damage occurs.
Common symptoms of a stroke in both men and women include: numbness in face or limbs (especially on one side), confusion or trouble speaking or understanding, trouble seeing in one or both eyes, sudden difficulty in walking or stumbling when walking, or a sudden, serious headache.
Women can have symptoms mentioned above, or they may experience these unique symptoms:
- Sudden face and limb pain
- Sudden hiccups
- Sudden nausea
- Sudden general weakness
- Sudden chest pain
- Sudden shortness of breath
- Sudden palpitations
Quick action saves lives! Act F.A.S.T. Here is what you should remember if anyone near you is experiencing any of the above symptoms:
F—FACE: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face appear lop-sided?
A—ARMS: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drop down?
S—SPEECH: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Do they have difficulty or are they slurring?
T—TIME: If you observe any of these signs, call 911 IMMEDIATELY.
The good news is there is an FDA-approved clot-buster medication that may reduce long-term disability, but it needs to be administered within THREE HOURS of the first symptom. It is crucial to act F.A.S.T.
There are ways to ensure that your odds of having a stroke remain low. Check your family history of stroke because they can run in families. Maintain a healthy blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol count. Do not smoke. Keep your weight in check and get plenty of exercise. That being said, women do have unique risk factors including: taking birth control pills, pregnancy, using Hormone Replacement Therapy, having a waist larger than 35.2 inches and a triglyceride (blood fat) level higher than 128 milligrams per liter, and experiencing frequent migraines.
Know your risk factors, maintain a healthy lifestyle, and act F.A.S.T. This can save your life, or the life of a loved one. For more information, check out these links:
- National Stroke Association
- American Stroke Association
- Go Red for Women
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention