Women and Stroke: Understanding Your Risk

While there are some uncontrollable risk factors that put you at higher risk for stroke, such as age, gender or having a family history of stroke, many risk factors are in your control.

  • High Blood Pressure: It’s a main risk factor and many women are unaware of having high blood pressure.
  • Birth Control: These medications may raise your risk of stroke, particularly if it’s combined with other risk factors such as high blood pressure, cigarette smoking, or diabetes.
  • Hormone Replacement Therapy: Taking these medications can put you at a slightly elevated risk for stroke.
  • Autoimmune Diseases: Lupus or diabetes for example, can increase your risk.
  • Migraines: Having migraines with aura (visual disturbances) can significantly increase your risk of stroke.
  • Preeclampsia: A history of preeclampsia (high blood pressure during pregnancy) puts you at an increased risk for stroke.
  • Clotting Disorders: Having recurrent miscarriages can be one sign of a clotting disorder.

Other signs include having deep vein thrombosis (blood clots in the legs).

  • High Cholesterol: Too much cholesterol directly contributes to having a stroke.
  • Cigarette Smoking: Smoking can double your risk for stroke.
  • Poor Diet and Physical Inactivity: A healthy diet and exercise will help you manage many conditions that put you at higher risk for stroke.


A stroke happens when the blood flow to the brain stops , and brain cells begin to die. This occurs when a blood vessel carrying oxygen to the brain is either blocked by a clot (ischemic Stroke), or ruptures (Hemorrhagic Stroke). A stroke may be referred to as a ‘brain attack’ .


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

• Stroke is the third leading cause of death for women
• 1 in S women in the U.S. will suffer from a stroke
• Almost 60% of stroke deaths are in women
• Stroke kills 2 times as many women as breast cancer

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