Stroke has many symptoms and risks specific to women and a recent survey found that most women are unaware of it.
The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center conducted a national survey of 1,000 women and found that only 11% could correctly identify pregnancy, lupus, migraine headaches and oral contraception or hormone replacement therapy as female-specific stroke risks.
The survey also found that only 10% were aware that hiccups combined with atypical chest pain are among the early warning signs of a stroke in women when accompanied by or followed by typical stroke symptoms.
According to the National Stroke Association, stroke is the third leading cause of death for women.
Dr. Diana Greene-Chandos said that things like pregnancy, hormone replacement therapy and even something as trivial as a case of the hiccups could all play an important role when it comes to strokes in women, and there was a need to be more aware of it.
Some risk factors are the same for both women and men, including smoking, not exercising or having a blood pressure higher than 140/90mmHg. Other stroke risk factors for men and women include having a hemoglobin A1C of more than 7% if you are already diabetic, or 5.7% if not; as well as having a LDL cholesterol of les than 100mg/dl if you are without additional stroke risks, or less than 70mg/dl with additional stroke risks, particularly diabetes, she said.
Greene-Chandos added that both women and men should focus keeping their blood pressure under 140/90 mmHg, because having high blood pressure consistently puts people at risk for having a stroke.
But symptoms of stroke can be different for women, and may include hiccups, dizziness that is not classic vertigo, headaches, atypical chest pain and/or numbness of the entire body with one side being more numb than the other.