On Your Health

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Risk Factors for Stroke in Women

by Mary Pinzon, stroke education nurse for INTEGRIS

Did you know women have more strokes than men? In fact, one in five women will have a stroke in their lifetime. Knowing the risk factors for stroke can help you identify the lifestyle changes you need to make to lower your chances of having a stroke.
Hi, my name is Mary Pinzon. I'm the stroke education nurse for INTEGRIS Health. I'd like to talk briefly about women and stroke. Women can protect ourselves from stroke by recognizing risk factors at various ages and stages of our lives. Women have more strokes than men, 55,000 more per year. One in five women has a stroke in her lifetime. So let's look at where these risk factors occur.
  • Women with uncontrolled high blood pressure have an increased risk for stroke.
  • Women who are pregnant and have uncontrolled high blood pressure in pregnancy have an increased risk for stroke due to a condition called preeclampsia.
  • Women who use birth control pills and have uncontrolled high blood pressure or who smoke are at increased risk for stroke.
  • Women who experience migraines with aura, the visual changes that occur before the headache begins are at increased risk if they take birth control pills and they smoke.
  • Women who experience atrial fibrillation, the rapid irregular quivery heart beat, have an increased risk for stroke.
So how do you lower your risk for stroke?
  • Talk with your health care provider to identify and control your risk for stroke.
  • Know and control your blood pressure now.
  • Don't smoke. If you use tobacco, get help to quit.
  • If you have migraines with aura, don't smoke.
  • And remember to act FAST to identify a possible stroke and call 911 for emergency help.
And remember that FAST stands for:
  • Face - Ask the person to give a big toothy smile. Does one side of the face droop?
  • Arms - Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
  • Speech - Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred or strange?
  • Time - If you observe any one of these signs, it's time to call 911 immediately, and remember nothing by mouth.
Thank you.

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