What Women Need to Know About the Hidden Risk Factors for Stroke

Delhi India 07- 352CStroke is not a geriatric disease. It’s not confined to overweight smokers who have high blood pressure and high cholesterol. “Those are the most common risks,” according to Steven J. Kittner, M.D., director of the Maryland Stroke Center at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore. “But strokes can affect anyone at any age. There are other risk factors for stroke that are especially important for women under fifty-five.”

I call them the “hidden” risk factors for stroke. They are very real, especially for women, but not as talked about in the stroke prevention literature. These “hidden” risks caused me to have a stroke at only forty-eight ears old. They include:

Migraines: Recent research shows that women who suffer from migraines with aura (visual disturbances such as flashing dots or blind spots) can be up to ten times more likely to suffer a stroke, depending on other risk factors.

Birth Control Pills: Women who take even a low-estrogen birth control pill are twice as likely to have a stroke than those who don’t.

Hormone Replacement Therapy: Women who take hormone replacement therapy may have a slightly increased stroke risk.

Autoimmune disorders such as diabetes or lupus can increase the risk of stroke.

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 retiularis, a mottled purplish discoloration of the skin, especially when it is cold.

And, risk factors are cumulative,” Dr. Kittner says.  “Reducing even one risk can greatly lower your chances of having a stroke.”

Prevent stroke by knowing your risks and reducing them as much as you can.