- Strokes are known as “brain attacks.” When blood flow stops to an area of the brain, the cells receive less oxygen, similar to what occurs during a heart attack. When brain cells can’t get enough oxygen, they die. Strokes generally fall in one of two categories,” Dr. Achieng says. “Ischemic strokes occur when a blood clot in a vessel stops blood flow to the brain. Hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel bursts and bleeds into the surrounding brain tissue. Certain factors in women can lead to both types of stroke.
- According to a study presented by European Stroke Organization (ESO) Conference, there is a rising heart attack and stroke among women than men. This is due to work stress, sleep disorders, fatigue, which are usually termed as non-traditional risk factors for heart attack and stroke.
- While diabetes, arterial hypertension, raised cholesterol, smoking, obesity, and physical inactivity are recognized modifiable risk factors for cardiovascular disease, recently, it has been noted that non-traditional risk factors such as work pressures and sleep problems can significantly add to cardiovascular risk. Stroke is the No. 4 cause of death in women and kills more women than men. In fact, one in five women has a stroke.
- Traditionally men have been perceived to be more affected by heart attacks and strokes than women.
- But, the “study found men were more likely to smoke and be obese than women, but females reported a bigger increase in the non-traditional risk factors for heart attacks and strokes, such as work stress, sleep disorders, and feeling tired and fatigued”, said Dr Martin Hansel, Neurologist at the University Hospital Zurich, and her team.
- “This increase coincides with the number of women working full time. Juggling work and domestic responsibilities or other socio-cultural aspects may be a factor, as well as specific health demands of women that may not be accounted for in our daily ‘busy’ lives,” Hansel added.
- High blood pressure is the leading cause of stroke and is the main cause for increased risk of stroke among people with diabetes.
- Researchers compared data from 22,000 men and women in the Swiss Health Survey from 2007, 2012, and 2017, and found an “alarming” rise in the number of women reporting the non-traditional risk factors for cardiovascular disease. The trend coincided with an increase in the number of women working full-time from 38 per cent in 2007 to 44 per cent in 2017.
- Overall, in both sexes, the number reporting stress at work rose from 59 per cent in 2012 to 66 per cent in 2017, and those reporting feeling tired and fatigued increased from 23 per cent to 29 per cent (to 33 per cent in women and 26 per cent in men).
- Over the same period, the number reporting sleep disorders went up from 24 per cent to 29 per cent, with severe sleep disorders also rising more sharply in women (8 per cent) than in men (5 per cent).
- However, the research also found the traditional risk factors for developing cardiovascular disease had remained stable in the same time period, with 27 per cent suffering from hypertension, 18 per cent with raised cholesterol and 5 per cent with diabetes. Obesity increased to 11 per cent and smoking decreased from approximately 10.5 to 9.5 cigarettes per day, but both were more prevalent in men.
Stroke prevention in women:
With so many factors that can raise the risk of stroke in women, are there ways to prevent them?
The same steps you take to improve your heart health will also reduce your stroke risk, Dr. Achieng says. Your doctor may recommend taking a daily dose of aspirin because it thins the blood and reduces clotting, but that will depend on the individual.
Stroke prevention tips:
- Eat healthier
- Exercise regularly
- Aim to lower blood pressure and cholesterol
- Quit smoking
- Reach a healthy weight
- Take rest