Maybe just like how heart attacks are to men strokes are to women. Men are the predominant victims of heart attacks and women who fight for equality might not find it so pleasurable to realize that stroke kills a greater number of women than men and more women have stroke than men. Statistics show that almost one in five women have stroke. Such high numbers are not due to her lifestyle or hormones but mainly because of risk factors of stroke that include pregnancy, preeclampsia, hormone replacement therapy, migraine with aura, birth control pills and atrial fibrillation. Stroke doesn’t ring a precautionary bell before striking and what’s more dangerous is that women experience different stroke symptoms that replicate common symptoms and this includes pain, seizures, hiccups, hallucination, nausea, vomiting, confusion, shortness of breath, general weakness, agitation and sudden change in behaviour.
Uncommon symptoms make stroke in women difficult to diagnose resulting in delayed treatment. Any delays beyond 5 hours after the first symptom occurs makes it very difficult for the treatment to be effective. We now have new research giving women yet another factor to worry-they benefit less from a surgery that’s primarily used to treat carotid artery disease, a key risk factor for stroke.
Carotid artery disease, also called as carotid stenosis contains fatty deposits called plaque that build up inside the neck arteries thereby increasing stroke risk. Physicians perform a surgery to remove fatty deposits by a procedure called endarterectomy. Researchers found that in those participants who had a risk for plaque build up endarterectomy proved to be more useful in men as the risk of stroke was only 8.9% in men compared to 11.1% in women. The study was conducted on more than 31,000 people aged over 65 years suffering from carotid artery disease-a condition that’s responsible for almost 15% of all ischemic strokes.
Ageing, smoking, high BP, high cholesterol, diabetes and sedentariness increase the risk of carotid artery disease. The very presence of plaque doesn’t increase the risk immediately but when fatty deposits fill more than 70% of carotid arteries there is a chance of stroke within five years. Until the blockage becomes severe needing surgery medications to control risk factors are given.
The best way to save yourself from all the complications of stroke and its effect is to lead a healthy lifestyle by practising the following:
AVOID FRAUD. EAT SMART.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.