May 27, 2024


Truth Triumphs

Strokes are deadlier for women!

GUEST COLUMN: Dr. N Prabhudeva

Bengaluru, Dec 8: Strokes can affect anyone but women are more susceptible than men. Strokes are a life-threatening emergency, and immediate medical attention is critical to prevent permanent damage or death. A stroke is your brain’s equivalent of a heart attack. Referred to as brain attack, a stroke is also called a cerebrovascular accident. 

A transient ischemic attack – TIA — sometimes known as a mini stroke — is a temporary period of symptoms similar to those in a stroke. A TIA doesn’t cause permanent may lead to a full-fledged stroke sooner or later! It’s a warning bell! Seek medical help at the earliest

Recognizing the signs of stroke-FAST: Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, Time is crucial for prompt medical attention.

The golden hour is a time bracket of 60 minutes or less. It is the door-to-treatment time of acute ischaemic stroke treatment. This crucial hour is paramount for the medical team to establish a focused diagnostic workup that establishes stroke: Stroke patients have a high chance of survival and prevention of long-term brain damage if they receive medical treatment and drug therapy within the first 60 minutes of the onset of symptoms.

10 minutes for the patient to reach and be evaluated by the doctor in the emergency room; 15 to 25 minutes for the CT scan to be performed; 45 to 60 minutes for starting the treatment

Stroke deaths are rising at an alarming rate across the world! In India 8 lakh people suffer from stroke annually out of which women are more likely to die compared to men!

Risk during pregnancy increases due to the changes in blood pressure and stress on the heart. The use of birth control pills, especially among women who smoke or have high blood pressure, leads to increased risk of stroke. Post-menopause, the natural decline in oestrogen levels in women’s bodies also contributes to an increased stroke risk!

During pregnancy, having preeclampsia, or gestational diabetes enhances the risk of stroke. Older women are affected by changes in hormone levels and may also be influenced by using hormone therapy after menopause. The risk of stroke is higher during pregnancy and the postpartum period due to changes in blood clotting factors, which increases the risk of blood clots and stroke. The lower smoking rates among women is the saving grace.

• Hormonal fluctuations: Hormonal fluctuations associated with menstruation, use of birth control pills, pregnancy and menopause play a significant role in increasing stroke risk in women.

• Longer life expectancy: Women tend to live longer than men – a longer lifespan which increases stroke risk.

• Higher prevalence of hypertension and diabetes: Diabetes and High blood pressure together or alone – a significant risk factor for strokes, and it’s more prevalent in women, especially as they age.

• Migraines and aura: Women who experience migraines with aura are at a higher risk of stroke. Understanding this connection is crucial for prevention.

• Autoimmune diseases: Some autoimmune diseases, such as lupus and anti-phospholipid syndrome, are more common in women and can increase the risk of strokes.

Many women have an early menopause before they turn 40 compared to other women who undergo this crucial transition at the ages of 50-51. This premature menopause can put them at a 90 per cent higher risk of stroke. 

Strokes occur when the brain’s supply of oxygen and nutrients is interrupted. This can be due to weakened blood vessels that rupture under pressure, resulting in a haemorrhagic stroke. More frequently, it’s caused by clots or plaque obstructing blood vessels leading to the brain attack, termed an ischaemic stroke. Both stroke types can inflict permanent harm or even death. Survivors of strokes often grapple with long-term disabilities, heightened depression risk, memory issues, and other complications!

Women can avoid strokes!

Maintain a healthy lifestyle- regular exercise, consuming a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables, and low in saturated fats. Managing blood pressure through regular monitoring and medication, avoid smoking, limit alcohol consumption, and manage diabetes effectively – important steps to reduce the risk of stroke.

Women are also advised to exercise caution while considering hormone replacement therapy and oral contraceptives, particularly older women and those with additional risk factors. Weight reduction and physical activity are the important interventions. A healthy lifestyle is linked to a lower risk of stroke.

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