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Women and Stroke: How Risk Factors Differ Between Men and Women

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risk factors for stroke differ for men and women George Doyle/Stockbyte/Thinkstock

What are little girls made of?

Sugar, and spice, and everything nice!

What are little boys made of?

Snips and snails, and puppy dog tails!

I always particularly liked this nursery rhyme for the simple fact that little girls were made of "everything nice!"

As the oldest of a large family and possessing not one -- not two -- but FOUR younger brothers, I had no difficulty believing that boys must indeed be made of snails, puppy dog tails, and a few other totally gross and unmentionable items!

Of course, while sugar-and-spice might not be a good description for my brothers, they actually can be incredibly nice at times.

The nursery rhymes serves to make an important point -- boys and girls, men and women are not the same.

Gender makes a difference. One area where gender plays a crucial role is our health.

The month of May is American Stroke Month, sometimes referred to as National Stroke Awareness Month. Regardless of what you call it, May is a time set aside to specifically focus on education and raising awareness about stroke.

While many women may be generally aware of stroke risk factors, many may not be aware that gender plays a role. Women face numerous unique risk factors for strokes which our male counterparts simply don’t have to worry about.

Here, we’ll take a quick look at what we have in common with men, and more importantly, what we don’t have in common.

Common Gender Neutral Risk Factors
High blood pressure is the major cause of stroke for both men and women. The American Heart Association has identified seven top risk factors for high blood pressure and stroke.

They are family history, age, gender related risk patterns, lack of physical activity, poor diet, overweight, and consuming too much alcohol. All of these risk factors are common to both men and women.

• Family history: A family history of high blood pressure increases your risk.

• Age: Age increases the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease.

• Gender: Gender plays a role in the development of high blood pressure.

Before age 45, high blood pressure is more common in men than women.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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