Women & Stroke

While men and women share many common symptoms and risk factors for stroke, there are some that are unique to women. It is important for women to recognize these differences and act on them.


Common stroke symptoms seen in both men and women:

  • sudden numbness or weakness of face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • sudden severe headache with no known cause

Women may experience unique stroke symptoms that men do not, such as:

  • sudden face and limb pain
  • sudden hiccups
  • sudden nausea
  • sudden general weakness
  • sudden chest pain
  • sudden shortness of breath
  • sudden palpitations

Call 9-1-1 immediately if you have any of these symptoms.

Risk Factors

One way you can improve your odds for not having a stroke is to learn about the lifestyle changes and medicines that can lower your stroke risk. Some risk factors are the same for men and women, such as:

  • a family history of stroke
  • high blood pressure
  • high cholesterol
  • smoking
  • diabetes
  • being overweight
  • not exercising

Other risks unique to women:

  • taking birth control pills
  • being pregnant; stroke risk increases during a normal pregnancy due to natural changes in the body, such as increased blood pressure and stress on the heart
  • using hormone replacement therapy (HRT), a combined hormone therapy of progestin and estrogen, to relieve menopausal symptoms
  • having a thick waist and high triglyceride (blood fat) level; post-menopausal women with a waist size larger than 35.2 inches and a triglyceride level higher than 128 milligrams per liter may have a five-fold increased risk for stroke
  • being a migraine headache sufferer; migraines can increase a woman's stroke risk 3-6 times, and most Americans who suffer migraines are women

For more information about women and stroke, please call 304.526.6317.

Source: www.stroke.org