Women Have a Higher Risk of Stroke

Stroke is the 4th leading cause of death in women and kills more women than men. In fact, one in five women has a stroke.

The higher stroke risk in women may be due to:

  • Atrial fibrillation – This increases stroke risk among women over age 75 by 20 percent.
  • Migraines with aura –Migraine with aura is associated with ischemic stroke in younger women, particularly if they smoke or use oral contraceptives. Smokers with migraines accompanied by aura should quit immediately.
  • High Blood Pressure - While you may have had normal blood pressure most of your life as a woman, your chances of developing high blood pressure increase considerably after menopause. In fact, women that are just 20 pounds or more overweight, have a family history of high BP or have reached menopause are known to have an increased risk.
  • Hormone replacement therapy – This type of therapy should never be used to prevent stroke in post-menopausal women.
  • Birth control pills – Birth control pills have become much safer over time, but women who are already at risk of stroke should take extra precautions. Get screened for high blood pressure before the pill is prescribed. And never smoke while taking oral contraceptives.
  • Pregnancy –The risk of stroke in pregnant women is 21 per 100,000, with the highest stroke risk during the third trimester and post-partum. Those with high blood pressure should be treated with medications and monitored closely.
  • Preeclampsia – This is high blood pressure that develops during pregnancy. Preeclampsia doubles the risk of stroke later in life. If you have any history of hypertension, talk to your healthcare provider about taking low-dose aspirin starting in the second trimester.

Because of the high stroke risk in women, it’s important to take care of yourself; know & manage your blood pressure, get lots of rest, eat the right foods and be physically active. And don’t smoke!

American Heart Association: https://www.stroke.org/en/about-stroke/stroke-risk-factors/women-have-a-higher-risk-of-stroke

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