Stroke and Women: 4 Things You Need to Know
As a woman, you may pay close attention to early detection and prevention of female-specific health conditions, such as breast cancer. However, cardiovascular disease takes more women’s lives.
Fact 1: Stroke Is Prevalent in Women
Stroke takes the lives of twice as many women as breast cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The good news is, four in five strokes may be prevented by managing heart health and following key lifestyle habits.
Fact 2: Your Risk of Stroke Is Closely Related to Cardiac Health
When you have a stroke, the flow of blood to your brain has been blocked or a blood vessel in your brain has burst. Either of these events results in disrupted delivery of oxygen to your brain and the death of brain cells.
If you have a heart condition, such as coronary artery disease (CAD), you are at an increased risk for stroke. Because CAD is characterized by the buildup of plaque in your arteries, the condition could result in the blockage of blood to your brain. Other cardiac conditions, including atrial fibrillation, enlarged heart chambers and heart valve defects, are also dangerous, because they may cause blood clots that can block the flow of blood to your brain. One in three women is living with a type of cardiovascular disease.
Fact 3: Key Risk Factors Predict Your Likelihood of Cardiovascular Conditions
Nearly half of the individuals living in the United States have at least one of the following risk factors for heart disease and, by extension, stroke:
- high blood pressure
- high low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol
- Other factors that can increase your risk of cardiovascular complications include:
- excessive alcohol intake
- unhealthy diet
Fact 4: You Have the Power of Prevention
With a few simple changes to your regular habits, you can take effective action to reduce your likelihood of developing cardiovascular conditions that can lead to heart disease and stroke in women.
- Choose a nutrient-rich diet that is low in calories, saturated fat and sodium. Think fresh fruit and vegetables, lean sources of protein and whole grains.
- Exercise regularly. Set a goal for 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity, as recommended by the American Heart Association.
- If you smoke, take steps to quit.
- Keep your weight in check by prioritizing exercise, healthy diet and portion control.
- Manage your stress levels. This includes strategies, such as positive self-talk, meditating or practicing yoga.
- Regularly check your blood pressure. If it is too high, talk with your healthcare provider about ways to get it under control.