Strokes in Women
Contrary to popular belief, women do have strokes. Strokes in women account for about half of all strokes, and more than 100,000 women die from a stroke each year in the United States. In addition to stroke risk factors such as high blood pressure and smoking, risk factors for a stroke in women may also include pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause. Symptoms of strokes in women may differ from those seen in men. Besides classic stroke symptoms (such as sudden confusion, dizziness, and difficulty speaking), women may experience symptoms such as sudden hiccups, chest pain, tiredness, and shortness of breath.
Many women think strokes are a man's problem. But a stroke is very much a woman's problem. In fact, about half of all strokes occur in women, and 60 percent of all stroke deaths occur in women. This means that over 100,000 women a year die from a stroke.
Fortunately, there are things that women can do to decrease their risk for having a stroke.
A stroke occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is suddenly interrupted or when a blood vessel in the brain bursts, spilling blood into the spaces surrounding brain cells. In both of these situations, brain cells can die.
There are two types of stroke: ischemic stroke and hemorrhagic stroke. An ischemic stroke occurs when not enough essential oxygen- and nutrient- rich blood is able to get to certain parts of the brain for a long enough period of time that brain tissue is damaged. In most cases, this lack of blood supply occurs because a blood vessel becomes severely narrowed or blocked.
A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when there is bleeding into or around the brain. This most often occurs from long-standing damage as a result of high blood pressure. A hemorrhagic stroke can also be caused by an aneurysm, which is a thin or weak spot in an artery that balloons out and can burst.