Researchers have found that stroke disproportionately affects women as compared to men due to factors such as fluctuations in naturally occurring hormone levels, early age of menarche and menopause.
According to the researchers, stroke is a leading cause of disability that affects 55,000 more women than men each year.
“Many people don’t realise that women suffer stroke more frequently than men and mortality is much higher among women,” said co-author of the study Kathryn Rexrode from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in the US.
“As women age, they are much more likely to have a stroke as a first manifestation of cardiovascular disease rather than heart attack,” Rexrode added.
For the study, published in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association, researchers delved into the scientific literature to investigate evidence about risk factors that are unique to women.
They explored the effects of potential risk factors such as hormone levels, hormone therapy, hormonal birth control, pregnancy and time of menarche and menopause.
The research team found that fluctuations in naturally occurring hormone levels, adverse effects of supplemental hormones used as contraception or to treat menopausal symptoms are some of the factors that can elevate stroke risk among women.
The team also noted that while many of these factors are extremely common, only a fraction of women who have one or more will have a stroke in their lifetimes.
“These women should be monitored carefully and they should be aware that they are at higher risk, and motivated to adhere to the healthiest lifestyle behaviours to decrease the risk of hypertension and subsequent stroke,” Rexrode mentioned.