SSM Health Medical Minute: Stroke is 3rd leading cause of death for women in the U.S.

ST. LOUIS - Stroke is the 5th leading cause of death in the United States. However, it is the 3rd leading cause of death for women in the US. That equates to one in every 5 women in the US who will have a stroke in her lifetime. What often comes as a surprise to people, is that stroke kills twice as many women as breast cancer.

There are conflicting studies out there about who has more strokes… men or women. It is probably very close to equal. But what we do know is that the risk of stroke increases as we get older, and since women in general tend to live longer than men, the incidence of stroke for women eventually surpasses that of men, especially after the age of 80. So this means that more women end up in long term care facilities after strokes. This helps to explain why 6 out of 10 people who die from stroke are women.

For younger women, some unique stroke risk factors include high blood pressure during pregnancy, certain types of birth control (especially if the woman is a smoker), hormone replacement therapy, and migraines, which are more common in women than men. Typically those who have strokes have more than just one of these risk factors.

Dr. Sushant Kale, Interventional Radiologist at SSM Health St. Clare Hospital in Fenton says, "Uncommon stroke symptoms like seizures at the onset of stroke a change in the behavior or agitation sometimes hallucination rather than a common weakness on one side. Sometimes they have just a bad headache nausea vomiting or hiccups.​"

For more information about stroke click here.

The SSM Health Medical Minute airs every Thursday at 7 PM on KPLR News 11 and at 9 PM on KTVI Fox 2 News.​