Strokes are the third leading cause of death in the U.S. and are on the rise in young women. Young women can be at increased risk of stroke if they have a family history for stroke, smoke, use hormone-based birth control or have underlying medical conditions placing them at risk.
Regardless of age, women can increase their chance of surviving a stroke by quickly recognizing the symptoms of a stroke:
- Weakness. Sudden weakness is a classic symptom of stroke for both women and men. Weakness can occur on either side of your body; affecting your arms, legs, and face. A woman may notice she has sudden difficulty moving her arm or leg or has trouble grasping or holding onto objects. In some cases, the mouth may sag on the affected side and smiling will be difficult.
- The trouble with speech or having difficulty talking. You may struggle with finding words, slur your speech or find yourself unable to speak.
- Headache. You may experience a headache unlike any that you’ve ever had before, which can be the first warning sign that something is wrong. Blurred vision and dizziness may accompany a headache as well.
- Difficulty breathing. A woman may notice that her chest feels heavy and it is harder to take a deep breath. You may also experience chest pain in addition to pressure, nausea, and heartburn.
- Confusion. A stroke can interrupt blood flow to vital organs, including your brain. Confusion occurs as your brain receives less oxygen and struggles to function. This sign may seem startling in a young woman may be a first sign that medical attention is needed.
Call 911 if you notice any signs or symptoms of a stroke, even if they seem to fluctuate or disappear.
The window of opportunity to successfully treat a stroke is short – about three hours – which is why every minute counts. Unfortunately, about 70 percent of patients who suffer a minor stroke do not recognize their symptoms – and 30 percent delay seeking medical attention for more than 24 hours.
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