Women and Stroke Prevention
While many people are aware of the increased risk of stroke that comes with aging, few people know the facts on how gender influences the likelihood of stroke. For women, this is bad news, as statistics show women are more likely than men to have strokes.
Women can manage their health better by learning about these risks, available medications and the symptoms of stroke.
Increasing Your Stroke Awareness
The National Stroke Association worked with HealthyWomen, an independent health information resource for women, and discovered these trends:
- · Women suffer from 55,000 more strokes than men every year.
- · Seven out of 10 women are not aware that they are more likely than men to have strokes.
- · Strokes kill twice as many women as breast cancer.
The first thing women need to know is the definition of a stroke. A stroke occurs when a blood clot blocks an artery or a blood vessel breaks, cutting off blood flow – and oxygen -- to the brain. When this happens, brain cells can die and result in temporary or permanent brain damage.
The next step is to learn which medications help prevent strokes and the risks associated with these drugs.
Stroke Prevention Medications
Two main groups of medications are used to prevent strokes: antiplatelet agents and anticoagulants. Antiplatelet agents slow production of a chemical that signals blood cells to clot. Anticoagulants, also called blood thinners, target clotting factors, stopping blood clots from forming and reducing the size of existing clots. Some common blood thinners are warfarin, Pradaxa, Xarelto and Eliquis.
Unfortunately, because blood thinners stop clots from forming, minor bumps and bruises can escalate into uncontrollable bleeding events. If a patient is taking warfarin, the bleeding can be controlled with vitamin K. But with Pradaxa, Xarelto and Eliquis, there is no bleeding antidote, putting patients at risk. In fact, in 2011, more than 500 people lost their lives after using Pradaxa.
Stroke Warning Signs
Women also need to learn the signs of a stroke. The National Stroke Association found that among 1,000 women who were older than 25, only one in three could recognize the warning signs of a stroke. Being able to properly identity warning signs and promptly seek medical attention can reduce the risks of severe and possibly fatal strokes.
Signs of a stroke include:
- · Sudden, intense headache
- · Extreme dizziness
- · Dimmed vision
- · Loss of vision in one eye
- · Difficulty speaking
- · Difficulty understanding others
- · Sudden numbness of the face on one side
- · Sudden weakness of limbs on one side
If you experience these symptoms, call 911 immediately. The more timely your response is, the greater your chances of survival and recovery.
GUEST BLOG: Alanna Ritchie is a content writer for Drugwatch.com, specializing in news about prescription drugs, medical devices and consumer safety.