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Preventing stroke and assessing risk in women.

Authors
  • Keteepe-Arachi, Tracey
  • Sharma, Sanjay
Type
Published Article
Journal
The Practitioner
Publication Date
Mar 01, 2017
Volume
261
Issue
1802
Pages
13–17
Identifiers
PMID: 29139276
Source
Medline
Language
English
License
Unknown

Abstract

Ischaemic stroke is rare in premenopausal women but risk increases with advancing age and doubles in the ten years following the menopause. Up to the age of 75 years men have a 25% higher risk of suffering a stroke compared with women. However, the increased life expectancy of women ultimately results in a higher overall incidence. Twice as many women die from stroke compare with breast cancer. Women with cerebrovascular disease are more likely to present with atypical symptoms than men. Altered mental status (including unresponsiveness, confusion and behavioural change) is the most common nonconventional symptom, and is reported by 23% of women compared with 15% of men. Other nonconventional symptoms reported more commonly by women include face or hemibody pain, lightheadedness and headache. Atrial fibrillation (AF) and hypertension, although less common than in men, are more potent risk factors for stroke in women. Compared with men with AF, women with AF are at increased risk of ischaemic stroke (6.2% versus 4.2% per year). This increased risk persists in anticoagulated patients with a relative risk ratio of 2.0. Pregnancy is a unique risk factor for stroke in women. The risk is highest in the third trimester and peripartum period. Women with hypertension in pregnancy, whether secondary to pre-existing disease, preeclampsia or eclampsia have a six-to nine-fold increased risk of stroke compared with normotensive women. Preeclampsia doubles the risk of stroke in later life. Gestational diabetes is also associated with higher risk of stroke extending beyond childbearing years.

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