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July's Focus is Stroke Awareness

Preventing Stroke in Women of All Ages

A stroke can happen in an instant and it can be a life-altering event. A stroke can strike anyone no matter your age, ethnicity or sex. A stroke happens when blood can’t flow to the brain. A blood clot or bleeding in the brain is most often responsible. In the United States stroke is now more common in women than men. More than half of the 795,000 strokes that occur each year happen to women and 60 percent of stroke deaths occur in women.

The American Heart Association recently updated its guidelines for preventing strokes in women. Certain factors can boost the chances of having a stroke. While women have many of the same risk factors for stroke as men, such as high blood pressure, smoking and diabetes, they also have other risk factors to consider. Hormonal changes can raise a woman’s risk for stroke.

During a stroke, both men and women often report that the following symptoms appear suddenly:

  • Numbness or weakness in the face or limbs;
  • Trouble seeing;
  • Dizziness or loss of balance and coordination;
  • Confusion and trouble speaking or understanding; and
  • Severe headache with no known cause.

Other symptoms may include hiccups, nausea, chest pain, fatigue, shortness of breath and a racing heartbeat. Recognizing these symptoms and getting immediate medical care when they occur can save your life. It may also lower your risk for more serious disability. Compared with men, women have a lower quality of life after a stroke.

You can‘t change your family history but you can change some behaviors to help reduce your risk of stroke:

  • Lower you blood pressure;
  • Maintain a healthy weight;
  • Exercise;
  • Monitor diabetes; and
  • Quit smoking.

Prevention, early detection and timely treatment of stroke-related risk factors are your best defense for staying healthy. Take advantage of important health screenings covered by your health plan throughout the year.

For more information on stroke awareness, visit here.

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