Women and Stroke Risk Factors
Risk factors that you cannot control include:
- Increasing age. As women age, the risk of stroke rises and keeps rising with age.
- Sex (Gender): More women die of stroke than men—60 percent of total stroke deaths occur in women.
- Heredity (Family history): Women (and men) are more likely to have a stroke if their close blood relatives have had a stroke.
- Race: African American women have a greater incidence of stroke and are more likely to die of a stroke than Caucasian women.
- Previous stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA or mini-stroke): A previous stroke or TIA is a predictor of future stroke.
Risk factors for women (and men) that can be modified, treated or controlled by lifestyle changes or medicine include:
- High blood pressure
- High blood cholesterol
- Physical inactivity
- Excess alcohol intake
- Atrial fibrillation
- Carotid artery disease
Risk factors unique to women include:
- Birth control pills
- Hormone replacement therapy (HRT), a combined hormone therapy of progestin and estrogen, to relieve menopausal symptoms
- Pregnancy: stroke risk increases during a normal pregnancy due to natural changes in the body such as increased blood pressure and stress on the heart
- A thick waist and high triglyceride (blood fat) level: post-menopausal women with a waist size larger than 35.2 inches and a triglyceride level higher than 128 milligrams per liter may have a five-fold increased risk for stroke
- Migraine headaches: migraine headaches with aura (visual disturbances such as flashing dots or blind spots) can increase a woman's stroke risk 3 to 6 times, and most Americans who suffer migraines are women
Center for Women's Cardiovascular Health
1-866 662-8467 (toll free)
Last UpdateNovember 23, 2012