In its simplest terms, a stroke is a “brain attack”. It can happen to anyone at any time. It occurs when blood flow to an area of the brain is cut off. When this happens, brain cells are deprived of oxygen and begin to die. When brain cells die during a stroke, abilities controlled by that area of the brain such as memory and muscle control are lost.
Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States, killing more than 130,000 Americans each year—that’s 1 of every 20 deaths. And yet, it seems some women are ignoring some vital warning signs, and the problem is that they may not know what to look out for.
Most people have somewhat of an idea of what the typical stroke symptoms are, however, need we be reminded that in the real world, things may not always play out the way they do in our heads? And according to the Australian neurologist and clinical research fellow, Dr. Cheryl Carcel, this attitude is causing many women to ignore the early signs and symptoms.
“Stroke is unique in women,” Dr. Carcel said in an interview. ‘They come to the hospital with generalized weakness, fatigue, mental status changes or reduced consciousness.’
Typically, most people associate strokes with stuff like difficulty speaking, drooping on one side of the face and weakness on one side of the body. But Dr. Carcel said that the atypical symptoms listed above make it “more challenging for those seeing them at the hospital to immediately recognize that they are having a stroke.
The doctor advised women to be less hasty when they assume that what they are suffering from is not the early sign of a potential stroke.
Professor Anushka Patel, from the George Institute for Global Health, added that many women still believe ‘that women don’t suffer heart attacks or strokes, and they’re male problems’. “We tend to decide what are typical symptoms – whether it’s for heart attack or stroke – around what happens to men because men are most researched,” she told an interviewer.
Professor Patel concluded by saying that women need to pay attention to the atypical symptoms of stroke, as well as the typical.
“Weakness on one side of the body is not the only sign for stroke. If you’ve got unexplained symptoms, recurrent or abnormal symptoms that might represent heart attack or stroke you should get them checked out,” she said.Advertisement