When you have a stroke, time lost is brain lost. The sooner you get treatment, the better your chance of survival without (or at least with minimal) side effects. And, since women can have different (and surprising) stroke symptoms, it can be even harder to recognize the signs.
Just What Is a Stroke, Anyway?
A stroke is an interruption or blockage of blood flow to or in your brain. There are a few types of stroke:
This type of stroke happens when an artery or blood vessel in your brain ruptures and bleeds within your brain. Causes of hemorrhagic stroke can include high blood pressure, blood thinners, and aneurysms (weak spots in the blood vessel walls).
The most common type, ischemic stroke is a blocked blood vessel in your brain. Usually either a blood clot forms in an artery to your brain and blocks or stops blood flow, or a blood clot or bit of plaque (the fatty material that can clog your arteries) can break loose from another part of the body and lodge in one of your brain’s blood vessels.
Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA)
This type of ischemic stroke goes away within 30 minutes without causing permanent damage. However, that doesn’t mean you should ignore it. It’s a warning of what can happen without seeking help and making lifestyle changes.
Although any type of stroke can cause death or permanent disability, hemorrhagic stroke is the most serious.
Common Stroke Symptoms
The usual symptoms of stroke are face drooping, arm weakness, and slurred speech. But other symptoms can include:
- Loss of balance or trouble walking
- Severe headache
- Vision trouble (double vision, partially blocked vision or feeling like you’re looking through a broken window)
Although some symptoms may be the same as for other conditions, stroke symptoms happen suddenly. In fact, sudden onset of symptoms is one of the ways you can identify a stroke.
If you’re with someone you believe is having a stroke, you should Act FAST:
Face: When the person smiles, does one side of the face droop?
Arms: When the person raises both arms, does one sink back down?
Speech: Is the person’s speech slurred? Can he or she repeat a simple sentence?
Time: If the person has any of these symptoms, call 911 immediately.
However, you may be surprised by the types are signs that can signal a woman is having a stroke. You should specifically look out for these stroke symptoms in women:
- Agitation or sudden behavioral change
- Difficulty breathing
- General weakness
- Loss of consciousness
- Nausea or vomiting
Studies suggest the uncommon stroke symptoms in women may delay treatment. Remember the saying, time lost is brain lost. Although clinical trials have greatly extended the window for stroke treatment, women can’t get the most effective treatment if their strokes are not recognized immediately.
Be sure to always note the time any stroke symptoms began — this is critical information for emergency medical people and doctors at the hospital.
Know Your Risk and Understand the Signs
For anyone having a stroke, time is of the essence. By knowing stroke symptoms for women and men, each of us will be better prepared to save a life, including your own. Find out more about how to prevent and treat a stroke at our cutting-edge neuroscience institute.