Women in their 20s, 30s and 40s are among the highest risk groups for stroke. IU Health Methodist Hospital is ready at a moment’s notice to treat them.
Nurse Nicole Meyer can rattle off the statistics for stroke. One after another, after another. The numbers are etched in her mind.
But one of the most crucial messages she wants to relay is a little known fact to most: Women — especially those in their 20s, 30s, and 40s — are one of the highest risk groups for strokes.
“And so they have to know the signs,” says Meyer, RN, mobile stroke program coordinator for IU Health. “Minutes really matter when it comes to treating stroke and having good outcomes.”
IU Health Methodist Hospital is certified as a Comprehensive Stroke Center, providing the top level of care for stroke patients. It treats patients effectively, rapidly and with round-the-clock specialists on call.
Methodist also recently launched its Mobile Stroke Unit, which will race to the scene of a patient suffering a stroke and treat them on the spot.
Women and Stroke
— Women have more strokes than men, and stroke kills more women than men.
— One in five women is at risk of having a stroke.
— Each year in the U.S., about 55,000 more women than men have a stroke.
— After stroke, women often have greater disability than men.
— More women die from stroke (77,200) than from breast cancer (41,213) each year in the U.S.
Risk Goes Up
Pregnancy: Stroke during pregnancy affects 34 pregnant women out of 100,000, compared to 21 women out of 100,000 who are not pregnant.
Preeclampsia: This is a term for high blood pressure that develops during pregnancy, and it doubles the risk of stroke later in life.
Birth control pills: Can double the risk of stroke, especially in women with high blood pressure.
Hormone replacement therapy: Once thought to lower stroke risk, this in fact increases the risk.
Migraines with auro plus smoking: Strokes are more common in women with migraines with aura who also smoke.
Atrial fibrillation: This increases stroke risk by five times and is more common in women and men after the age of 75.
Ways to Lower Risk
— Pregnant women with very high blood pressure should be treated with safe blood pressure medications.
— Talk to your healthcare provider about whether you should follow the guideline recommendation of low-dose aspirin starting in the second trimester to lower preeclampsia risk.
— Women should be screened for high blood pressure before taking birth control pills.
— Women should not smoke, and they should also be aware that smoking and the use of oral contraceptives increases the risk of stroke.
— Hormone replacement therapy should not be used to prevent stroke in postmenopausal women.
— Smokers who have migraines with aura should quit to avoid higher stroke risk.
— All women over age 75 should be screened for atrial fibrillation.
— By Dana Benbow, Senior Journalist at IU Health.
Reach Benbow via email firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @danabenbow.