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Stroke Risk in Women: How Can We Lower It?

By Melissa Kluczynski, MS

The month of May is dedicated to National Stroke Awareness. Women face a higher risk for stroke than men, and stroke is the number four cause of death in women. And among women, black women have the highest prevalence of stroke. As many as 1 in 5 women in the U.S. will have a stroke each year, but the good news is that 4 in 5 strokes are preventable.

So what is a Stroke? A stroke is when blood flow to an area of the brain is blocked or when a blood vessel in the brain bursts. A stroke is a medical emergency and requires immediate treatment. Delaying treatment increases the risk for permanent brain damage or death.

What are the Signs of a Stroke? Use the acronym, FAST, to help you remember the signs of a stroke: Face dropping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, and Time to call 9-1-1.

What are the Risk Factors for Stroke in Women?

  • Hypertension (main risk factor)

  • Increased age

  • Depression

  • Pregnancy

  • History of preeclampsia (or high blood pressure during pregnancy)

  • Taking birth control pills (especially among women with high blood pressure)