Two lectures from Stanford University Medical Center Faculty
Cerebrovascular Disease in Women
Presented by: Anna Finley Caulfield, M.D.
Assistant Professor of Neurology
Stanford University Medical Center
Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States and 25% of those who have a stroke will die within the first year following the stroke. Did that get your attention? Dr. Caulfield’s lecture went a long way in helping to identify the risks of stroke, particularly in women. Here’s another jolt: women are twice as likely to die from stroke than from breast cancer, and twice as many women die from stroke than men. A family history makes a person more likely to have a stroke.
There are two forms of stroke—the ischemic kind that involves interrupted blood flow due to a clot, accounting for 88% of strokes, and the hemorrhagic variety that involves a ruptured blood vessel and bleeding in the brain. The most common causes of ischemic stroke are narrowing of vessels in the brain due to plaque build up and blood clots. However, embolism, that is, a blood clot that traveled from another part of the body to the brain, is the most common cause in women. The modifiable risk factors are hypertension and smoking cessation. Age increases the risk of stroke and men have a higher incidence of stroke as they progress in age.
Compared to men, women have more severe strokes, a lower quality of life following stroke, and worse functional outcomes. There are race factors of concern too—blacks have a 38% higher incidence of stroke than other racial or ethnic groups. Here are some of the other conditions that place one at risk for stroke:
- Atrial Fibrillation (known as Afib)
- Hypertension (known as high blood pressure)
- Heart Disease
- High Cholesterol
- Transient Ischemic Attacks
- Carotid Stenosis
On the lifestyle front, here are some other factors that may contribute to stroke:
- Alcohol consumption higher than a glass or two of wine per day
- Lack of exercise (30 minutes per day of moderate exercise is recommended)
- Birth control pills
- A history of migraine headaches
- Hormone replacement therapy
For More Information:
Dr. Caulfield’s Community Academic Profile
Stanford Stroke Center