During National Women’s Health Week each year, millions of women take steps to improve their health. National Women’s Health Week serves as a reminder for women to make their health a priority and build positive health habits for life. The 20th annual National Women’s Health Week kicked off on Mother’s Day and is celebrated through May 18, 2019.
May is also National Stroke Awareness Month. Stroke is the third leading cause of death for women. Each year stroke kills twice as many women as breast cancer. However, this fact is widely unknown to the general public. Women are also less knowledgeable about the risk factors and don’t perceive themselves at risk for stroke. 55,000 more women have a stroke than men.
Hypertension remains the single most important modifiable risk factor, accounting for nearly 48% of strokes. With eight in 10 people experiencing their first stroke having hypertension, getting your blood pressure checked is an important first step in controlling your stroke risk.
Research has shown that unhealthy behaviors such as physical inactivity, poor diet, and smoking have an adverse effect on health and increase your stroke risk. For example, smokers have an increased risk of stroke, up to two to four times, compared to a nonsmoker or those that have quit for longer than 10 years.
Beyond reducing your risk for stroke, knowing the signs and symptoms of a stroke are equally important. Every 40 seconds someone in the U.S. has a stroke and around 800,000 people will have a stroke in the United States this year alone.
A common misconception is that strokes occur only in older adults. Although your stroke risk increases with age, a stroke can happen to anyone at any time. About 15% of ischemic strokes occur in young adults and adolescents.
During National Women’s Health Week and National Stroke Awareness Month, the National Stroke Association is urging the public to look at their stroke risk factors, and pledge to make at least one change to reduce their stroke risk.