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14 Stroke Risk Factors Every Young Woman Needs to Know

14 Stroke Risk Factors Every Young Woman Needs to Know

By Rachel Rabkin Peachman

Strokes are the number five killer in the U.S., according to the American Stroke Association (ASA). About 795,000 Americans each year suffer from a stroke (that’s a stroke about every 40 seconds), and shockingly, stroke in young women is on the rise.

"Most people think stroke only happens when you get older, but that's not true," Carolyn Brockington, M.D., ASA spokeswoman and director of the Stroke Center at Mount Sinai St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital in New York City, told Glamour. "It's important for women to understand that anybody can have a stroke — and that more women than men have a stroke per year."

One of the best ways to prevent a stroke is to know your risk factors, and talk with your doctor about how to manage them. According to Dr. Brockington and ASA data, these are five common risk factors for women:
—Pregnancy-related diabetes
—Preeclampsia
—A family or personal history of spontaneous miscarriages
—The use of birth control pills
—Hormone replacement therapy

Other common risk factors for both men and women include:
—Hypertension
—Irregular heartbeat
—Diabetes
—Depression
—Obesity
—Smoking
—Excessive alcohol use
—Family history of stroke
—Migraines

Another concerning fact: women are more likely to die from stroke than men, in part because women are less likely to receive the same level care and rehabilitation as men, according to the World Stroke Organization. One crucial way to be sure you get the care you need is to know the signs of stroke and get help immediately if you suspect one. According to the ASA, one in three adults can’t recognize a stroke, and this research shows that one in seven strokes in young adults is misdiagnosed.

In honor of World Stroke Day, here's an easy and FAST trick to identify the warning signs and symptoms of stroke (ASA even set it to music to make it easier to remember).

FAST stands for: Face Drooping (Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? When you smile, is it uneven?); Arm Weakness (Is one arm weak or numb? When you raise both arms, does one arm drift downward?); Speech Difficulty (Is speech slurred? Are you unable to speak or is it hard for others to understand? Try speaking a simple phrase like, "The sky is blue." See if the sentence is repeated correctly.) Time to call 911 (If you or someone else shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 911 and get the person to the hospital immediately. Check the time so you'll know when the first symptoms appeared).

The faster you can get to the hospital after a stroke, the faster you'll have access to treatments that can reduce long-term damage and save your life.

Visit the American Stroke Association for more information.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images