Many of the major stroke risk factors occur more frequently in women or are sex-specific to women. As a result, one in five women is at risk for stroke, as opposed to one in six men. Women over the age of 85 have the highest stroke rates of any other demographic.
Women have elevated stroke risk factors. Some stroke risk factors such as diabetes, migraines with visual aura, atrial fibrillation, depression, and hypertension occur more frequently in women, and many more stroke risk factors are sex-specific to women, such as pregnancy, preeclampsia, use of birth control pills (especially in the case of women with high blood pressure), hormone replacement after menopause, hormone changes, and gestational diabetes. As a result, one in five women is at risk for stroke, as opposed to one in six men.
Women tend to have worse stroke outcomes than men. They experience a more severe decline in cognitive function, an increased likelihood of institutionalization, and a higher risk of post-stroke depression. Women with stroke do not receive care that is comparably suitable to their health needs compared with men with stroke.
Women and stroke subtypes. Some stroke subtypes, such as cerebral vein thrombosis and subarachnoid hemorrhage, are much more common in women.
Women and depression. Women tend to have worse stroke outcomes than men as indicated by more severe decline in cognitive function, an increased likelihood of institutionalization, and a higher risk of post-stroke depression.
Women as caregivers. The burden of care giving falls predominantly on women, an important issue to women and stroke, as research shows that women caregivers of spouses who have suffered trauma such as stroke tend to report a decrease in mental health after becoming caregivers. Furthermore, women with depression have a higher stroke risk.
Women experience a decrease in mental health after becoming caregivers. Female caregivers of spouses who have suffered trauma such as stroke tend to report lower quality of mental health, such as increased depression.
Isolation and loneliness. Women are more likely to be living alone and widowed before stroke; they are more often institutionalized after stroke and have poorer recovery from stroke than men.
Women with stroke do not receive comparable care to men with stroke. Women tend to be treated less than men, despite responding equally well to treatments.
There is a gender gap in stroke education. Despite the fact that women tend to be more aware of be more aware of the stroke signs and treatments than men, women delay going to the hospital after stroke onset and are less likely to be aware of the 4.5 hour window for stroke treatment.
Stroke is largely preventable through lifestyle management, yet to beat stroke, women need sex-specific information, preventative practices, and acute and long-term care and support. Join us for the 2014 World Stroke Campaign to help us raise awareness of these issues by educating yourself on women’s stroke health, participating in World Stroke Day activities, and organizing your own stroke event. Stroke does not discriminate, stroke affects us all.