Among women, strokes are the third leading cause of death, accounting for killing 85,000 women every year in the United States. While men are statistically more likely to have a stroke, more deaths from strokes occur in women than in men. In fact, 60% of women who experience a stroke will die from it, which is a worrying statistic.
Strokes occur when the blood flow to an area of the brain is interrupted, either because of a blood clot blocking an artery, or because a blood vessel in the brain bursts. A constant supply of blood is extremely important as blood carries oxygen to our organs, and when that’s lost, brain cells begin to die.
There are three types of strokes. Ischemic, hemorrhagic, and a transient ischemic attack. Ischemic strokes are when a clot interrupts the flow of blood to the brain. Hemorrhagic is when a vessel ruptures and prevents blood from reaching the brain. A transient ischemic attack is when a clot only temporarily interrupts blood flow. These are often called mini-strokes, and while one is less severe than a full on stroke, they usually indicate future bigger strokes to come.
The most common stroke symptoms, which can be experienced by men and women, include numbness or weakness in the face or extremities, usually on only one side of the body, confusion and trouble speaking, trouble seeing and walking, and headaches. Women may additionally experience unique symptoms such as overall weakness, seizures, difficulty breathing, nausea, or behavior changes like agitation or disorientation.