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A brain attack, also called a stroke, occurs when blood can’t adequately get to the brain. Deprived of oxygen and nutrients, brain cells become injured or die.
Fortunately, women are not defenseless against stroke. There are several steps they can take to protect themselves and their loved ones.
Risk Factors Associated With Stroke
According to Dr. Sherry Braheny, a neurologist affiliated with Sharp Grossmont Hospital, every woman needs to take steps against this common enemy. However, women with a risk of stroke may want to be even more diligent about making healthy choices. Here are some risk factors to change or treat:
There are other risk factors that are not controllable. Among these are prior stroke or TIA, increasing age, and a family history of stroke. Gender is another risk factor, since more women die from stroke than men. Race is also a factor, given that there is increased risk for stroke among African Americans and Hispanics.
Reduce Your Risk
There are a number of strategies that can help protect against stroke, which include:
In addition, you should follow your doctor’s recommendations for managing chronic diseases — in particular, certain heart diseases such as atrial fibrillation and elevated cholesterol levels. Other strategies for reducing the risk of stroke include: limit alcohol to one drink per day, exercise at a moderate pace for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week, decrease your stress level and aim to eat at least five to six servings of fruits and vegetables each day.
Aspirin and Stroke Prevention
Women older than 60 years of age or those with risk factors for stroke should talk to their doctors about taking aspirin for stroke prevention. Taking too much aspirin may actually increase your risk of stroke.
Warning Signs of Stroke
Stroke symptoms include:
Women may report unique stroke symptoms such as the sudden onset of: face and limb pain, hiccups, nausea, general weakness, chest pain, shortness of breath and palpitations.
FAST: Respond Quickly to Stroke Symptoms
Call 911 to access emergency services immediately. The most effective stroke treatments are only available if the stroke is recognized and diagnosed within the first three hours of symptoms. Use the tool below to help you recognize the stroke symptoms and act FAST.
Face — Does your face look symmetrical? When you smile or raise your eyebrows, do both sides look the same?
Arm — Can you raise up both of your arms? Does one arm drift downward?
Speech — Does your speech sound slurred? Are you having trouble getting the words out?
Time — Time to call for help. Don’t wait! Time is brain tissue! Initiate emergency medical services — call 911.
For More Information
To learn more about Sharp's stroke and neurology services or to find a Sharp-affiliated doctor, search for a San Diego neurologist or call 1-800-82-SHARP (1-800-827-4277), Monday through Friday, 8 am to 6 pm. To find general information about neurology, visit Neurology and Stroke in Adult Health or read the Neurology News archive.