You may have heard that men have a higher risk for stroke than women, but that doesn’t mean women should let down their guard. In fact, statistics show that women are more likely to die of stroke than men, in part because women tend to be older when they suffer strokes. Even more worrisome is a new study from the University of Southern California showing stroke rates among younger women (ages 35 to 54) have tripled over the past two decades, while men’s rates have remained stable.

With women’s stroke risk on the rise, it’s important for everyone to know that women are more likely than men to experience nontraditional symptoms of a stroke. According to the journal Stroke, the most common non-traditional warning sign in women is altered mental status, such as confusion, disorientation or loss of consciousness. Women are also more likely than men to experience a sudden onset of symptoms including:

  • Face and limb pain
  • Hiccups
  • Nausea
  • General weakness
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Heart palpitations

Although men can experience non-traditional symptoms too, they are more likely to experience sudden onset of numbness of the face, arm or leg on one side of the body; vision problems; confusion; trouble with walking or coordination; and severe headaches with no known cause. Women may also experience these warning signs.

For men and women, the key to surviving, and possibly reversing, any lasting effects of a stroke is to recognize the warning symptoms and get immediate medical attention.

Stroke Risk Assessment

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