PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A new study in the Journal of Neurology finds stroke rates are declining for men in the us, but they’re holding steady for women.
Scientists say the warning signs for strokes can be different in men and women, which might explain why they’ve decreased to the fifth leading cause of death for men but remain the fourth cause of death for women.
Barby Crear, 67, has heart disease, which puts her at higher risk for stroke.
“I never thought women had strokes; I didn’t even think about that,” Crear said. “All the people in my family who had strokes were guys.”
A new study in the Journal of Neurology finds stroke rates are declining for men in the us, but they’re holding steady for women.
“We’re still learning how to diagnose symptoms of stroke in women,” Dr. Lisa Matzer, a cardiologist, said.
Researchers looked at more than one million adults over a 17-year period.
Doctors say part of the reason why the numbers haven’t improved for women is they don’t always know how to spot the signs.
“I don’t feel good. I feel tired. My muscles are weak. These are all symptoms, warning symptoms of a stroke or mini stroke,” Dr. Matzer said. “Yet a woman isn’t understanding that these are symptoms that you should see your doctor.”
High blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes are stroke risk factors and have been increasing in women as obesity rates rise.
Since seeing her doctor, Crear says she’s changed her diet and has been able to cut back on cholesterol medication.
“I’ve started getting so much better,” Crear said. “It took a couple of years.”
The main risk factors for having a stroke include age and family history. The traditional symptoms are sudden weakness on one side, confusion, blurred vision and headache.
Doctors say for some people, aspirin can reduce the risk of strokes.