Women and Strokes: Unique Risks & Uncommon Symptoms

Strokes are the third leading cause of death in the US and are on the rise in young women. Arm yourself by knowing the common and lesser-known risks and symptoms tied to this deadly disease.

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The Pill

 Although it occurs in a relatively small percentage of women, taking the birth control pill can cause blood clots related to strokes. This does not mean that if you’re taking the pill you need to go off of it. Rather, you need to be extra aware of this risk factor, especially if you have other risk factors such as high blood pressure or a family history. Always discuss your health background in detail with your doctor to determine if you should be on the pill.

Pregnancy and Giving Birth

 During pregnancy and birth, a woman experiences major hormonal changes and blood pressure typically rises. Studies show that during the post-partum period, especially within the first 6 weeks after delivery, a woman’s risk of having a stroke is 2.5 times higher than usual. 

One Glass of Soda or Sweetened Juice Per Day

 A new study showed that as little as one soda or sugary juice drink a day increases the risk of stroke in women by 83% while there was no correlation in men. According to a different study, diet soda also increases a woman’s risk.  

Sudden Neck Movement

 The neck houses major arteries – carotid and vertebral – that transport blood to the brain. Sudden movements that cause you to flex or extend the neck too far can break a blood vessel or cause a blood clot. While this is rare, you should still be aware and avoid sudden movements of the neck that can occur, say, while you’re working out or doing yoga.

Symptoms of Stroke

If you experience a stroke on the left side of the brain, the right side of the body is impacted, often resulting in numbness, tingling, etc. If the right side of the brain is injured, then the left side of the body is affected. A stroke in the back of the brain can impact vision, while a stroke in the front of the brain can impair speech.