Did you know that atherosclerosis can also affect the brain? If an artery that carries blood to the brain is blocked, that part of the brain can be damaged. This is a stroke. A stroke can cause problems with reasoning, speech and movement. It can even be fatal.
“After suffering a stroke, I look back and maybe should have called 911, but I downplayed things a bit. I wanted my husband to take me to the hospital. I thought I was better than I actually was.” – Beth Croner, Main Line Health stroke survivor
Women are more likely than men to have and die from having a stroke. Why? Some risk factors for stroke, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, are more common in women or increase a woman's risk more significantly. Pregnancy increases stroke risk. Taking certain birth control pills can double a woman’s risk for stroke, particularly if that woman has high blood pressure and uses tobacco. Hormone changes around menopause also increase stroke risk. African American women are nearly twice as likely to have a stroke as white women.
Stroke and TIA symptoms: Don’t ignore them
Know the symptoms of stroke and TIA (transient ischemic attack). This can save your life. If any of the following come on suddenly, call 911 right away:
- Numbness, weakness or pain in the face or of a limb, usually on one side of the body
- Confusion, trouble speaking or trouble understanding
- Trouble seeing
- Dizziness, trouble walking or loss of balance
- Severe headache with no known cause
- Nausea, general weakness, shortness of breath, chest pain or a racing heartbeat