Stroke Symptoms for Women

by Dr. Stephen Sinatra
Filed Under: Heart Health, Women's Health, Stroke
Last Reviewed 02/24/2014

Stroke Symptoms for Women

We often hear that women have different heart attack symptoms than men, but did you know that stroke symptoms for women can be different, too? Unfortunately, I have first-hand experience with this. I was 13 years old when my paternal grandmother died from a massive stroke.

I can’t help but think that if people were more adept back than at recognizing the stroke symptoms for women, both large and minor,my grandmother’s massive stroke may have been prevented. Since May is National Stroke Awareness Month, I wanted to use this opportunity to spread the word about what risk factors for stroke women should look for.

Warning Signs of Stroke in Men

Men tend to follow the textbooks. Their strokes tend to present themselves with the more traditional stroke symptoms, including:

  • Weakness in arm or leg or both on the same side,

  • Weakness in facial muscles with progression to one-sided facial droop,

  • Sudden headache,

  • Leg weakness or instability, or a gait stagger,

  • Imbalance in coordination: stumbling, difficult walking or picking up objects,

  • Difficulty speaking and slurred speech,

  • Vision abnormalities: double vision or loss of vision in visual field on same side for both eyes,

  • Dizziness; vertigo or

  • Change in consciousness level.

Warning Signs of Stroke in Women

Stroke symptoms for women can be less traditional, and tougher to detect. For example, imbalance, slurred speech or one-sided weakness in the face or the body, are more frequently reported by men. While women can experience traditional warning signs of stroke, you also want to look for less traditional signs and symptoms as well, including:

  • Facial pain or one-sided limb pain,

  • Nonspecific: chest pain, shortness of breath, palpitations,

  • Non-specific neurological symptoms, such as hiccups, nausea and non-focal/generalized weakness

Should you experience traditional or nontraditional symptoms of stroke, call your physician immediately and get to an emergency care facility. In case of more severe symptoms, such as fluctuations of consciousness, slurred speech or profound sudden weakness of one side of the body, don’t wait—call 911.

A special note to coffee lovers: In a decade-long study of 34,670 Swedish women, those who had a daily cup of java had a lower risk factor for stroke than those who didn’t.

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