Midlife Stroke Most Common in Women
Stroke Risk More Than Twice as High for Women as Men Aged 45-54
WebMD News Archive
June 20, 2007 -- The chance of having a stroke from ages 45 to 54 may be
more than twice as high for women as for men.
Researchers from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) report
that news online in the journal Neurology.
Amytis Towfighi, MD, and colleagues reviewed data from national health
studies completed by some 15,300 U.S. adults between 1999 and 2004.
interviewed in their homes about their medical history. During those
interviews, they were asked if a doctor had ever told them that they had had a
Stroke affects blood flow in the brain. In most strokes, a blood vessel in the brain is blocked.
Those strokes are called ischemic strokes. Other strokes, called
bleeding or hemorrhagic strokes, happen when a blood vessel in the brain leaks
Stroke is the No. 3 cause of death for U.S. adults. It's also a leading
cause of disability.
Stroke becomes more common with age. It's relatively rare -- but still
possible -- in middle-aged or young adults.
Of the approximately 15,300 adults interviewed, only 606 said they had
been diagnosed as having had a stroke.
As expected, stroke was most common in the survey's oldest participants.
However, stroke was also reported by 2.5% of women and 1% of men aged
Why were women more than twice as likely as men in that age group to
have had a stroke? The study doesn't answer that definitively. However, women
with a history of heart disease and with larger waists were more likely to
report a stroke.
The researchers also noticed that blood pressure and total cholesterol
levels rose more steeply in women than in men aged 45-54.
Worsening blood pressure, cholesterol, and obesity may partly explain why
women appeared to be more vulnerable to stroke than men in their mid 40s to mid
50s, the researchers note.
9 Tips for Stroke Prevention
The CDC's web site lists nine steps people can take to help prevent
- Prevent and control high blood pressure.
- Prevent and control diabetes.
- Don't smoke.
- Prevent and control high cholesterol.
- Treat atrial fibrillation (an irregular heart rhythm).
- Don't drink alcohol excessively.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Get regular physical activity -- at least 30 minutes per day on most days,
with your doctor's permission.
- Eat a healthy diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables without a
lot of artery-clogging saturated fat.
Stroke Symptoms: What to Do
Seek emergency medical care at the first sign of a possible stroke.
Swift stroke treatment may make a big difference, and some stroke drugs are
given within the first few hours after symptoms start.
Possible warning signs of stroke include:
- Sudden weakness or numbness in the face, arm, or leg on one side of the
- Abrupt loss of vision, strength, coordination, sensation, speech, or the
ability to understand speech. These symptoms may become more marked over
- Sudden dimness of vision, especially in one eye.
- Sudden loss of balance, possibly accompanied by vomiting, nausea, fever,
hiccups, or trouble with swallowing.
- Sudden and severe headache with no other cause followed rapidly by loss of
- Brief loss of consciousness.
- Unexplained dizziness or sudden falls.