HealthDay News — Although stroke is the third leading cause of death in women, many are unaware of the warning signs and symptoms that are unique to females, according to a survey conducted by The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus.
“I think we have a ways to go when it comes to educating women about stroke and their unique risk factors,” said Diana Greene-Chandos, MD, a neurologist and director of neuroscience critical care at Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center.
“Things like pregnancy, hormone replacement therapy and even something as trivial as a case of the hiccups can all play an important role when it comes to strokes in women, and we need to be more aware of it.”
To assess women’s knowledge of gender-specific warning signs for stroke, the investigators surveyed 1,000 women. Only one in 10 women were aware that hiccups that occur with unusual chest pain is an early warning sign of stroke in women; only 11% of women polled knew that pregnancy, lupus, migraine headaches, birth-control pills, and hormone replacement therapy increase their stroke risk.
“Women may have more headaches with their strokes. They actually can have hiccups with a little bit of chest pain with their stroke symptoms, sometimes sending them down the pathway of looking for either heart disease or indigestion,” noted Greene-Chandos.
Nearly half of those surveyed also said they didn’t know that following a stroke, many women experience nerve damage, problems swallowing, and depression, which can prevent them from getting needed rehabilitation.
“Women do not think they are going to have a stroke. They think of it as a man’s disease,” said Greene-Chandos. “You have to know when you are having a stroke, you have to recognize that it’s a stroke and you have to get to the emergency room and receive the medication.
“Women shouldn’t ignore their symptoms or hope they will go away because they may lose their opportunity to receive acute treatment.”