Women's Health Alert: Could You Have a Stroke and Not Know It?
We often hear that women have different heart attack symptoms than men, but did you know that stroke symptoms can be different for women, too? Unfortunately, I have firsthand 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 symptoms of both large, and minor, strokes in women—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 women should look for when it comes to strokes.
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
- Change in consciousness level
For women, stroke symptoms 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 stroke symptoms, you also want to look for less traditional signs and symptoms as well, including.
- Facial pain or one-sided limb pain
- Non-specific: chest pain, shortness of breath, palpitations
- Non-specific neurological symptoms: hiccups, nausea, non-focal/generalized weakness
Should you experience traditional or non-traditional 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 stroke risk than those who didn’t.
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Meet Dr. Sinatra
Dr. Stephen Sinatra is a highly respected and sought-after cardiologist and nutritionist with more than 30 years of clinical practice, research, and study. His integrative approach to heart health focuses on reducing inflammation in the body and maximizing the heart's ability to produce and use energy. More About Dr. Sinatra
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