Unique aspects of stroke in women

A stroke happens when the brain doesn’t get enough oxygen. This can be because a blood vessel in the brain breaks or gets blocked by something like a clot. Most strokes happen because of a blockage. 

Both men and women can have strokes, but more women get them than men. One reason for this is that women live longer. Other reasons that relate specifically to women include: 

  • Starting monthly periods at a young age 
  • Having used some types of hormonal birth control  
  • Having a baby
  • Changes in blood pressure after menopause
  • Using menopause hormone therapy (MHT) 

There are other reasons connected to social and cultural issues. Women are more likely to take care of others who have had a stroke. This means women live with the impact of stroke more than men, even when they have not had one. It also has been shown that caring for a person who has had a stroke raises your own risk of having a stroke.  

Illustration in unique aspects of stroke in women

Many older women also feel lonely or isolated, and this can add to the risk. Feeling very anxious, not sleeping well, having a lot of life stresses such as family and caregiving, and not having secure work or money can also increase our risk. 

Women are also more likely than men not to be diagnosed quickly. This is because women are more likely to have non-traditional symptoms that a doctor might not recognise as being due to stoke. Also, studies are increasingly showing us that women’s pain is more likely to be dismissed by their doctor. 

Unique symptoms of stroke in women

Both men and women can experience the traditional symptoms of stroke, such as:  

  • Facial weakness 
  • Arm weakness
  • Difficulty with speech 

But women are also more likely to have less commonly known symptoms, including:   

  • Confusion 
  • Tiredness
  • Weakness
  • Headache
  • Loss of consciousness

This video gives useful details about what a stroke is and how to recognise one. It is also available in different languages on the Stroke Foundation website, including Arabic, Chinese (Cantonese & Mandarin), Greek, Italian, Macedonian, Turkish, Korean, Hindi, and Vietnamese.


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