Jan Flewelling of the Methodist Neurological Institute in Houston says stroke kills twice as many women as breast cancer does, but many women still think stroke is a man's disease and women are less likely to report classic stroke symptoms than men.
"While women need to be aware of the common risk factors for stroke -- high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol -- some gender specific risks can also alter a woman's chances of suffering a stroke," Flewelling says in a statement.
"These include migraines with visual aura; brain aneurysms; autoimmune diseases, including diabetes and lupus; use of birth control pills, which are linked to increased blood clots; and hormonal changes during menopause."
Among the atypical stroke symptoms found in women are fainting, seizures, confusion, chest pain, shortness of breath and palpitations. However, Flewelling cautions, although these atypical symptoms are well documented, most stroke patients of both sexes experience traditional symptoms, such as sudden weakness/numbness on one side of the body or slurred speech.
"It's vital that women be more vigilant about their health, and education and awareness are keys to helping reduce the incidence of stroke in women." says Flewelling.