because of a blood clot or when a blood vessel ruptures, causing bleeding in or around the brain. Yet stroke dispropor- tionately affects women – more women die of stroke, women have worse out- comes after stroke, more women are liv- ing with the effects of stroke and women face more challenges as they recover. A woman in Canada has a stroke every

17 minutes. This equates to 85 women every day, 18 of whom will die. Women are 60% less likely to regain

their independence after a stroke and experience a worse quality of life. Stroke affects women differently than

men and at different stages of life. Te risk of stroke is higher during pregnancy. As women’s bodies adapt to menopause, stroke risk increases again. Elderly wom- en are especially vulnerable: they are the most likely to have a stroke; their strokes are the most severe; their outcomes are the poorest, and stroke can put an end to their independence. Some stroke risk factors are unique to women

Oral contraception and hormone re-

placement therapy both increase the risk of stroke. As well, Afib (atrial fibrillation) is a

significant risk factor for stroke and in- creases with age. Because women live longer than men, there are more women living with Afib. Strokes caused by Afib are often more severe in women and more women than men die from Afib-related stroke or have more deficits and poorer quality of life. First Nations, Metis, and Inuit women are at greater risk of stroke and twice as

The truth about women and strokes S

Christine Houde, Heart & Stroke Foun- dation

troke can happen to anyone, at any age. A stroke happens when blood stops flowing to any part of the brain

likely to die from it when compared to non-Indigenous women. Tey are more likely to have high blood pressure and di- abetes – both risk factors for stroke. South Asian women are more likely to have type 2 diabetes and women of African descent are more likely to have hypertension and obesity – again risk factors for stroke. Are women’s signs of stroke different than men’s?

Te signs of stroke are the same for men

and women. Tey are: FACE – is it drooping? ARMS – can you raise both? SPEECH – is it slurred or jumbled? TIME – to call 9-1-1 right away. But there are some things that women

need to know: Many women are not aware of what a

stroke is, and are unable to recognize the FAST signs of stroke. Ground-breaking research suggests

that more women than men who have TIA symptoms may actually be having a full stroke. Research will help us to under- stand how strokes present and progress differently in men and women Stroke is a medical emergency. If you

experience any of these signs, call 9-1-1. Do not drive to the hospital. An ambu- lance will get you to the best hospital for stroke care.

Take control There are many things women (and

men) can do to lower their risk of stroke, including preventing high blood pres- sure and managing other risks by mak- ing small lifestyle changes like eating healthier, moving more, reducing stress and stopping smoking. Please visit to

learn more about the signs of stroke, and to learn more about how stroke affects women.

10 Regional Times

Autumn 2018

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