10/28/02 - Strokes & Women

Every 53 seconds, someone has a stroke.  It can be deadly, if symptoms go unnoticed and aren't treated. 
Now researchers say stroke symptoms are different in women and may be harder to spot. Many times, it's because their symptoms are mild and go unnoticed. Like heart attacks, most people think of strokes as a man's problem, but each year more women die from strokes than from breast cancer. Knowing what to look for can save your life.
Dr. Joel Ray says, "Once it happens, whoever has it, you want to get them to the hospital right away." Dr. Ray describes a stroke as a heart attack of the brain. He says a stroke can be treated if you catch the symptoms, and you catch them early.
"They may have a headache, try to treat it themselves and bam, it's too late. They missed that window of opportunity for treatment," Dr. Ray says.
But stroke symptoms can be easy to ignore, especially in women. Here's why. Symptoms are vague: a headache, pain in your face or limbs, or you may feel disoriented. Symptoms in men are more sudden, and more noticeable. They often have difficulty walking after a stroke, or have trouble with their balance, or paralysis on one side of the body.
Dr. Ray says, "It may be a slightly different set of symptoms that might not say to them I'm having a stroke. Some symptoms are not recognizable and stroke related and they might have delayed care. Getting the care you need immediately after a stroke is vital. The faster it's caught, the less damage to your body.
Strokes tend to hit people in their mid 60s, risk increases as you get older, and since women generally live longer than men, it's that much more important for them look for the symptoms.
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