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Researchers Find Different Stroke Risk in Women

Consider the difference in stroke risk factors between men and women.

The disparity in stroke risk among men and women is clear: Stroke is the No. 5 leading cause of death for men, while it remains the No. 3 foremost reason for death among women, the National Stroke Association reported. Thousands more females than males will suffer from a stroke this year, a stroke that leaves them facing a much longer and more intensive recovery than their male counterparts.

Also unique is that stroke symptoms differ between the two genders. As the NSA explained, hiccups, agitation, confusion, hallucination, rapt change of behavior and pain, to name a few, are some of the symptoms women experience that are varied from the commonly listed general symptoms. But why is stroke that much more prevalent among women? Why are 55,000 more females than males dying from the disease annually? Researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital may have some answers.

Female-Specific Stroke Risk Factors
Investigators from Brigham and Women's Hospital set out to identify what separates the rates of stroke occurrence between men and women. Their findings outlining potential risk factors partial to women were recently published in the journal Stroke.

"Many people don't realize that women suffer stroke more frequently than men, and mortality is much higher among women," said corresponding author Dr. Kathryn Rexrode, MPH, of the Brigham and Women's Hospital Department of Medicine. "As women age, they are much more likely to have a stroke as a first manifestation of cardiovascular disease rather than heart attack."

"Changes in hormones play the biggest role in these women-specific risk factors."

According to the paper, women who experience menarche and menopause at earlier-than-average ages – before the age of 10 and before the age of 45, respectively – were at higher risk for stroke. Women who experience low dehydroepiandrosterone levels and regularly take oral estrogen or contraceptives were found to have a heightened risk, as well. Some of the highlighted risks such as oral contraceptives still need further research, the authors noted.

As the paper reported, researchers took a deep dive into the literature surrounding stroke risk as it relates to exogenous estrogens, pregnancies and other changes in hormones, which study authors considered women-specific factors. 

The Link Between High Blood Pressure and Stroke
According to the Harvard Heart Letter of Harvard Medical School, complications experienced during pregnancy and childbirth may be indicative of stroke risk years down the line. Women who go through eclampsia or pre-eclampsia during pregnancy have been found to be two times as likely to experience stroke or heart disease within the next five to 15 years. This tendency is because of the raised blood pressure and increased urine protein levels associated with pregnancy.

Similarly, oral contraceptives have been shown to increase blood pressure, which likely explains why birth control was one of the highlighted risk factors. One way that oral contraceptives increase your risk is through depleting vitamin B6, which can raise homocysteine levels and blood pressure. As the American Heart Association explained, the majority of people who experience a stroke had been living with high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. This heightened blood pressure weakens and even causes damage to arteries, putting the body at greater risk of stroke.

Monitoring blood pressure is important.Monitoring blood pressure is important.

Preventative Practices for Women
As the NSA explained, methods for reducing blood pressure – especially during and after pregnancy – are key for reducing stroke risk. Monitoring blood pressure during this time can also be beneficial. If you are concerned about raised levels, it's a good idea to talk with your primary care physician. All those 75 and older should consider regular screening for atrial fibrillation.

Magnesium has been shown to be effective at lowering blood pressure. In fact, as our Hallelujah Diet health experts have reported, magnesium is essential for muscles and blood vessel walls to relax and a lack of it has been linked to preeclampsia and hypertension. Adding this mineral into your diet and lifestyle, through sources like lentils, nuts, seeds, spinach, beans and leafy greens, can help minimize risk. 

Practicing a heart-healthy lifestyle is also encouraged. This includes consuming a wholesome, primarily raw diet, engaging in regular physical activity and avoiding stress-causing situations. At the end of the day, the key to health is education. Knowing the symptoms, understanding how to unearth your body's self-healing capabilities and staying up to date on research and news are among the most effective ways to stay healthy.


  1. Annette April 25, 2018

    This was some good information! I do take the Magnesium complex and it helps to relax me. I would tell anyone that is dealing with high blood pressure to take it. Just learning the different symptoms that women experience before having a stroke was good information. Thanks

  2. My friend jillie has Parkinson’s disease. Whst should she do ?

  3. My friend k has pancreatic csncer. What cam she do?

    • Melody Hord April 26, 2018

      Melisse, Thank you for your inquiry. At Hallelujah Diet, we are not medical doctors and cannot recommend how to treat disease. Hallelujah Diet does believe in the miraculous self-healing body that God created. When we keep out dangerous toxins to the best of our ability and give the body a chance to do what it has been designed to do, it is capable of marvelous things. The thing is, you never really know what the body will do. All we can do is our part in supporting it; sometimes in natural ways and other times through the medical community.
      There is a lot of information about how to empower the self-healing body on this website and in the books available in the shopping area. An inspirational one is “God’s Way to Ultimate Health” and another is “Unravel the Mystery, A Simple Effective Approach to Beating Cancer.”
      The Hallelujah Diet is a clean diet full of plants that provide ammunition for the body. BarleyMax and freshly extracted vegetable juices provide even more nourishment. Fresh vegetable juice is one of the best ways to deluge the body with copious nutrition in a form it can absorb with ease. When we start supplementing and nourishing the body, while keeping out toxins, everyone’s body responds differently. All we can do is be diligent and see what happens. It is up to our body.
      No matter what path your friend chooses to take, diet can play a big role. Trying to address inflammation in the body is also very important. Please feel free to call the customer service department at 1-800-915-9355. The hours are M-F 8am-6pm and Sat. 9am-4pm EST. Thank you so much for your interest and concern

  4. Angela Solomon May 2, 2018

    What a very powerfil article for women! Great information for us to read and educate ourselves on!

  5. T Black May 5, 2018

    Thanks for sharing this with us. It is important for women to be aware of the increased risk factors they live with. All the more reason to try to live healthier through diet and regular physical exercise.

  6. Jennifer March 5, 2020

    Thank you for this article. I was shocked to learn that if you experienced preeclampsia during pregnancy you are at a higher risk for a stroke. It’s good to be educated and take every precaution to avoid strokes in the future.

  7. Connie March 5, 2020

    I did not realize that women suffer more from strokes than men.
    Women who start their menstrual cycle early and finish menopause early are more at risk for stroke.
    Using oral contraceptives can also put a woman at risk because the medication can raise your blood pressure. This heightened blood pressure weakens and even causes damage to arteries, putting the body at greater risk of stroke.
    Magnesium supports healthy blood pressure.

  8. Great information to read and it helps to open our eyes to our health.

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