Stroke risk in women begins in young adulthood, according to a guideline synopsis being published in Annals of Internal Medicine. While stroke typically affects women in old age, sex-specific guidelines from the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association recommend that physicians assess a woman's health history for unique events that increase her risk of stroke later in life, such as being diagnosed with preeclampsia or using of hormonal contraceptives.
Each year, more than 3.8 million women and 3 million men will have a stroke in the United States and several risk factors for stroke are more common in women than in men. Women are more likely than men to suffer from hypertension, atrial fibrillation, migraine headache with aura, and depression and psychosocial stress. Internal medicine physicians are uniquely poised to assess a woman's risk for stroke and implement prevention strategies because internists care for patients from early adulthood to end-of-life. Stroke prevention strategies include healthy lifestyle interventions that encourage patients to maintain a healthy weight, eat a healthy diet, abstain from smoking, get regular physical activity and limit alcohol consumption. A healthy lifestyle also includes interventions that help to maintain normal blood pressure and cholesterol and blood glucose levels, as diabetic women have 27 percent higher risk for stroke than diabetic men.
Article: Stroke Prevention in Women: Synopsis of the 2014 American Heart Association/American Stroke Association Guideline, C. Bushnell and L. McCullough, Annals of Internal Medicine, DOI:10.7326/M14-0762, published 16 June 2014.