A stroke is a medical condition that occurs when there is a sudden disruption of blood flow to the brain, leading to damage to brain cells. This disruption can occur due to blockage in the blood vessels supplying the brain or the rupture of blood vessels in the brain. Characterized by numbness and weakness in the leg, arm face, trouble with vision, and severe headache, it will render a person paralyzed for some time. Though it is common in men and women, women are known to be hit by it more often than not. This article will help you understand the reasons behind it and how you might treat it.
What causes a stroke in females?
There are two kinds of strokes ischemic and hemorrhagic strokes- Ischemic stroke can either be caused by a blood clot and be a thrombotic stroke or an emblic stroke that could form in any part of the body. Hemorrhagic strokes are caused by brain vessel rupture leading to intracerebral and sometimes bleeding into space causing subarachnoid hemorrhage. Now let’s look at the causes that could lead to this life-threatening condition in females particularly-
High blood pressure opens a whole new can of worms for us. Be it a spontaneous cardiac event or in this case a stroke. This happens because the blood flow in the circulatory system is often hindered creating spaces or wedges or throwing clots that later actualize to be Strokes. High blood pressure can also narrow down the width of the arteries which contributes to catastrophic results.
Smoking is not good for our health and along with all the other things, it can also lead to stroke. It does so by damaging blood vessels and formation of blood clots. The ones it doesn’t destroy tend to narrow down making it further difficult to pass blood around the body.
Those with this vicious condition find it difficult to regulate their blood sugar levels. Consequently, they can also not limit the amount of insulin released into their body from the pancreas which further worsens the situation. Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to fat buildup in the blood vessels blocking blood flow and hence cutting off supply to the brain and other crucial organs.
Much like blood pressure, women with heart diseases such as atrial fibrillation. And valve disorders become vulnerable to strokes as their hearts might not work efficiently.
Birth control pills
Women use birth control pills as a form of contraceptive and some of them are known to increase the risk of blood clots. This is particularly possible for women above 35 who smoke and consume pills with estrogen.
Pregnancy and postpartum period
Pregnancy-related factors that can cause changes in women are not to be ignored either. Preeclampsia especially during the delivery can increase the risk of throwing a clot. Additionally, the postpartum period in women who are above a certain age should never rule out the risk of developing a blood clot and a subsequent stroke.
Age increases your chances of attaining any adverse condition. However, studies have shown that with age, the risk of developing strokes is higher in women when compared to men. The risk goes up significantly after they reach menopausal age.
How do you treat a stroke in a woman?
Treating stroke in women involves rapid and coordinated medical interventions to minimize the damage to the brain and improve the chances of recovery. The specific treatment approach depends on the type of stroke. Here’s an overview-
1. Ischemic stroke
- Clot-busting medications- Also called thrombolytics, Involves dissolving the blood clot leading to the stroke. It is often given just a few minutes after the patient experiences a stroke.
- Mechanical Thrombectomy- This includes physically removing or breaking up the clot. A catheter is threaded through blood vessels to the side of the clot and a device is used to remove the clot.
- Antiplatelet medications- This is given to prevent further blood clot formation and includes medications like Aspirin or Clopidogrel. Though it begins as an acute phase, it is often continued as a preventive measure.
2. Hemorrhagic Stroke
- Controlling bleeding- Aiming to control the bleeding into the brain and reduce intracranial pressure, medications for pressure and bleeding management are administered.
- Surgery- The removal of the ruptured blood vessel and a hematoma include aneurysm clipping, coiling, or surgical evacuation of the hematoma.
3. General stroke care
- Monitoring and support- Besides closely observing the vitals, oxygen therapy is also needed. Further measures are taken to avoid complications.
- Rehabilitation- Physical therapy is conducted to regain the lost mobility in arms or legs. Occupational therapy helps the patients with chores they might need to do daily and speech therapy for those who develop slurring as a result of the stroke.
- Medication management- Medications to manage conditions that are lifelong including diabetes are reviewed closely. Furthermore, blood thinners are also given to prevent any upcoming damage.
- Addressing Underlying Cause- Once the preliminary care is given, doctors might want to conduct detailed tests to analyze the real reason behind the stroke. They could temporarily stop the medication or suggest alternatives.
Stroke treatment is time-sensitive and the earlier the intervention, the better the outcomes. Here, time could determine everything and prompt medical attention could be the only way.
Read More: Can Phones cause blurry vision?
Preventive measures and rehabilitation play crucial roles in a woman’s recovery post-stroke. Lifestyle modifications, medical adherence, and ongoing medical checkups are essential for preventing recurrent strokes and managing long-term health. It is also important to note that stroke care is highly individualized and the above interventions may be adjusted based on the specific circumstances of the patient. Immediate medical attention is critical, and anyone experiencing stroke symptoms should seek emergency assistance by consulting with their doctor. You could also start maintaining your body if you are of menopausal age. Pregnant women should take particular care and discuss every situation with their OB/GYN to make sure nothing is left to chance. Post-delivery they should be careful before easing out into regular lives.
Mauvais-Jarvis F, Bairey Merz N, Barnes PJ, Brinton RD, Carrero JJ, DeMeo DL, De Vries GJ, Epperson CN, Govindan R, Klein SL, et al. Sex and gender: modifiers of health, disease, and medicine.Lancet. 2020; 396:565–582. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(20)31561-0 ahajournals.org/servlet/linkout?suffix=e_1_3_2_2_2&dbid=16&doi=10.1161%2FCIRCRESAHA.121.319915&key=10.1016%2FS0140-6736(20)31561-0
The Lancet Neurology. A spotlight on sex differences in neurological disorders. Lancet Neurol. 2019;18(4). https://doi.org/10.1016/S1474-4422(19)30001-8.