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Stroke is a medical emergency. With timely treatment, the risk of death and disability from stroke can be lowered. It’s important to know the symptoms and act in time; the first 3 hours are critical, brain cells are dying.

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Women and Stroke

Women-specific stroke statistics

Approximately 55,000 more women than men have a stroke each year.

More than 30% of strokes occur in women before the age of 65.

62% more women than men die from stroke each year.

More than 100,000 women died from stroke last year.

2.5 times more women die from stroke than breast cancer each year.

Studies have shown that women take 46% longer than men to get to the emergency room after stroke symptoms occur.

Women who smoke and take oral contraceptives greatly increase their risk of stroke compared to non-smoking women who use oral contraceptives.

Women significantly outnumber men as caregivers to stroke survivors (59% - 75%).


Women-specific stroke symptoms

Women do not always experience the classic stroke symptoms; women’s’ symptoms may include:

chest pain

face and limb pain

general weakness

heart palpitations



shortness of breath


Women-specific risk factors

Women share many similar risk factors as men; however, there are some risk factors that are specific to women:

Birth control pills

Women smokers who use birth control pills have a higher risk of stroke. Women who use or are considering birth control pills should discuss the possible benefits and risks with their doctor.

Clotting disorders

Women who’ve had more than one miscarriage may be at higher risk for blood clots, which can increase their chance of a stroke. Other signs of a possible clotting disorder can include previous history of clots in the legs (deep vein thrombosis) and livedo reticularis, a mottled purplish discoloration of the skin.

Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)

Some studies have shown that HRT increases the risk of stroke. Post-menopausal women who use or are considering using hormone therapy should discuss the possible benefits and risks with their doctor.


Women who suffer migraines are three to six times more likely to suffer a stroke than women who don't have migraines.


The risk of stroke may be higher in women during pregnancy and during the six weeks following childbirth but this is usually the result of other problems such as high blood pressure or diabetes. It’s important to have your doctor check these risk factors throughout your pregnancy.



American Stroke Association

Centers of Disease Control and Prevention

National Stroke Association

Peninsula Stroke Association

Stroke Awareness Foundation