Stroke’ is a term used to describe a medical condition that is characterized by deficient flow of oxygen and blood to a section of the brain leading to the death of brain cells. Immediate medical assistance is required, else there may be permanent brain damage.
Women may not elicit the classic stroke symptoms normally experienced by male patients. Therefore it is important for women to be aware of all the signs and symptoms of a stroke. Also, the symptoms may differ according to the site of bleeding and obstruction in the brain.
Signs and symptoms of a stroke in women
The classic symptoms of a stroke which can be observed in men as well as women include:
- Problems with coordination and balance
- Unexpected speech impairment
- Sudden weakness or numbness of the arm, face, or leg. It may be noted that only one side of the body is affected.
- Difficulties in understanding
- Disorientation or confusion
- Vision problems in one or both eyes
- Sudden onset of an intense headache
The signs and symptoms of a stroke in women are listed below:
- Breathing difficulties: Women affected by a stroke are most likely to suffer from respiratory problems. As breathing difficulties are normally associated with conditions of the heart or lungs, it poses a greater risk of misdiagnosis and delayed treatment.
- Convulsions or seizures: Sudden and unregulated electrical activities in the brain may cause seizures. The symptoms are dependent on the section of the brain experiencing anomalous electrical activities.
- Loss of consciousness or fainting: Women who have suffered from a stroke may also lose consciousness or faint. Accidents, falls, head injuries, etc. may lead to decreased blood flow to a section of the brain, which in turn results in loss of consciousness. As doctors are unable to question an unconscious woman it can often result in misdiagnosis and subsequent delay in treatment.
Other signs of a stroke in women are as follows:
- Pain in chest
- Pain in legs, arms, or face
- Heart palpitations
- Coordination difficulties
Causes of a stroke in women
A stroke is caused due to disruption in the supply of blood along with oxygen and other nutrients to the brain cells. Such disruption may be caused due to varied reasons.
A ruptured blood vessel in the brain can result in bleeding which can then affect the blood flow to the brain, causing an ischemic stroke.
Temporary blockage of blood supply to the brain results in a mini stroke or a transient ischemic attack. Its symptoms may last for a few minutes or up to 24 hours. It does not cause permanent brain damage and is considered as a warning sign for a stroke in future.
A stroke caused due to bleeding within the brain is called a hemorrhagic stroke.
Risk factors which can increase the susceptibility to a stroke are as follows:
- A sedentary lifestyle
- Elevated cholesterol
- Atrial fibrillation
- Alcohol abuse
Treatment of a stroke in women
A stroke is a medical emergency and treated via various means including surgery. Prompt medical treatment is essential to prevent paralysis, brain damage, and even death.
Women can prevent a stroke by effective regulation of blood pressure and diabetes, lifestyle changes such as limiting alcohol intake and smoking, exercising, and changes in diet.