What women need to know about stroke risk

BLESS YOU — It may not be widely known that women face unique risk factors for stroke throughout their lives. things like pregnancy, pre-eclampsiaand chronic stress can increase the risk of high blood pressure, a leading cause of stroke.

Cardiovascular disease, including stroke, is the leading cause of death in women Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and one in five women suffers a stroke. However, a large majority of strokes can be prevented.

Start managing your risk of stroke with these tips from American Stroke Associationa department of American Heart Association:

Image of a woman measuring her blood pressure. Monitor your blood pressure

The first step you can take to reduce your risk of stroke is to know your blood pressure and keep it within a healthy range. According to the American Heart Association, high blood pressure is the #1 preventable cause of stroke.

The best way to know your blood pressure is to have a doctor check it at least once a year and monitor it regularly at home, and then discuss the readings with a doctor. For most people a normal blood pressure should be 120/80 mm HG or less.

In addition to proper blood pressure monitoring, maintaining a healthy weight, being physically active, eating a healthy diet, and reducing or eliminating alcohol and tobacco use can all help control blood pressure. If you develop high blood pressure, work with a doctor on a plan to treat it.

Image of a pregnant woman.

Image by Devon Divine.

planning pregnancy

In the United States, high blood pressure is becoming more common during pregnancy, according to the CDC, and conditions such as preeclampsia, gestational diabetesand blood clots during pregnancy increase the risk of stroke during and immediately after pregnancy.

Treating conditions like high blood pressure before pregnancy will help keep you and your baby healthy during pregnancy and beyond. In addition, your health during and immediately after pregnancy can shape the lifelong health of you and your child. If you are planning to become pregnant or are already pregnant, it is important to check your blood pressure regularly.

Take care of your mental health

Some stress is unavoidable, but constant stress is not healthy. Chronic or constant stress can lead to high blood pressure and other unhealthy behaviors that can increase the risk of stroke.

Image of the American Psychological Association logo. Based on findings in a Stress in America 2020 Survey conducted by the American Psychological Association, the main sources of stress are money, work, family commitments and health concerns. Managing your stress and blood pressure can improve your overall health and well-being.

Take back control of your schedule and build time to invest in your health. Find ten minutes each day to do something for yourself, like listen to music, meditate, or go for a walk.

Learn the warning signs

A stroke can strike anyone at any time in life. Prompt treatment can help minimize the long-term effects of a stroke and even prevent death.

Learn how to spot a stroke FAST:

face drooping: Is one side of the face drooping or numb? Ask the person to smile. Is the person’s smile irregular?

arm weakness: Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Is one arm drifting down?

language difficulties: Is speech unclear? Can’t speak or is it difficult to understand the person? Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase like “The sky is blue.”

Time to call 911: If someone shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 911 and get to a hospital right away. Check the time so you know when the first symptoms appeared.

Talk to your doctor about ways to improve your well-being and prevent strokes. For more wellness tips, see stroke.org.

Image of a woman walking and being outlined by the sun.

“Wellness involves a healthy body, a healthy mind and a calm mind. Enjoy the journey while striving for wellness.” — Laurette Gagnon Beaulieu

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