Key Women's Stroke Guidelines Effect Teens to Seniors
By Sandy Schroeder
If you have ever seen the “before and after” effect of a serious stroke, you know how devastating it is. Or, you may have known someone who had a mild stroke or series of mini-strokes. Strokes in any form changes life.
In 2014, the first ever American Heart Association/American Stroke Association Guidelines for Women were released. As the awareness of women’s vulnerability to stroke gains attention, it might be valuable for every female, from adolescent to senior, to be aware of them.
Research says over 50 percent of the 800,000 Americans who have strokes annually are women. Almost four million American women currently live with the consequences of stroke, according to healthharvard.edu.
Definition of a Stroke
When something stops the blood flow to a part of the brain a stroke hits. Triggers can be blood clots or burst blood vessels. Brain cells quickly die without oxygen-rich blood and nutrients. Strokes damage speaking, swallowing, and walking, or quickly take a life.
Birth control pills – Risk is elevated, even under age 45, and smoking adds to the risk. New guidelines recommend a blood pressure check before taking oral contraceptives, and reduction of all other risk factors.
Pre-eclampsia during pregnancy - One in 12 women develop this condition where blood pressure and protein in the urine gradually rise, threatening mother and child. Pregnant women should be checked and monitored for the condition.
Hormone therapy - Use of estrogen and other hormones after menopause is no longer recommended to prevent stroke or heart disease. Large studies showed long-term use might actually increase risk.
Migraines – Symptoms appear as blinking lights or strange odors and raise the risk of stroke. Smoking accelerates the risk.
Atrial fibrillation - This fast, irregular beat in the heart’s upper chambers is a major stroke cause that requires blood thinning medications. Women between 65 and 79 are often treated with the minimum dose, 81 milligrams of aspirin, to prevent blood clots that can cause stroke.
According to healthharvard, edu., the new women’s stroke guidelines also call out major preventive areas, that are the same for men and women.
- Control high blood pressure
- Don’t abuse alcohol
- Do not smoke
- Maintain healthy weight
- Be physically active
- Cut sugary drinks, foods
- Eat a healthy diet similar to the Mediterranean style
Staying a step ahead of stroke risk can easily fit in with all of your other health efforts as you stay aware.
As always, when serious issues for stroke are considered, it is best to start with your physician to initiate checkups, and answer symptom questions.