Each year during the last week of October, the World Stroke Organization sponsors World Stroke Day. This year’s World Stroke Day is on Thursday, October 29, and this year’s theme is “I Am Woman.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), women are at higher risk of having a stroke, and suffering long-term disabilities as a result of stroke. Each year, 75,000 American women die of a stroke. Yet many women are unaware of the facts about stroke.
A stroke occurs when the blood supply to any part of the brain is reduced or cut off entirely. Strokes may be caused by a blood clot blocking an artery which supplies blood to the brain. Or, they may be caused by bleeding in the brain through a ruptured artery.
Certain factors raise the risk of stroke: increased age, a family history of stroke, smoking, high blood pressure, heart problems and diabetes. Women also should be aware of female-specific stroke risk factors, such as pregnancy-related diabetes, preeclampsia of pregnancy, hormonal changes, and taking hormone-containing medications such as oral birth control and hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
Certain lifestyle choices can lower the risk of stroke:
- Quit smoking.
- Eat a healthy diet, low in trans fat and cholesterol, and with plenty of fruits and vegetables.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Get enough exercise.
- Reduce stress.
- Follow your healthcare provider’s advice if you have diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure or cholesterol, or other chronic conditions.
Know the signs of stroke and get help fast
The faster a person receives treatment for a stroke, the better their chances for recovery. Yet many people miss the signs. Younger people, especially, may miss the signs, thinking that only older people suffer a stroke. In reality, strokes can occur at any age, and 25 percent occur in people younger than 65.
The CDC says that the signs of stroke are:
- Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg.
- Sudden confusion or trouble speaking or understanding others.
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
- Sudden dizziness, trouble walking, or loss of balance or coordination.
- Sudden severe headache with no known cause.
If you or someone else experiences one or more signs or symptoms of stroke, call 9-1-1 immediately. Every minute counts! Patients who arrive at the emergency room within three hours of their first symptoms tend to be healthier three months after a stroke than those whose care was delayed.
The information in this article is not intended to take the place of your healthcare provider’s advice. Discuss your stroke risk and stroke prevention with your doctor. If you or someone else is experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, call 9-1-1 right away.