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Risk of Stroke in Women

The Facts


Contrary to a lot of popular or stereotypical beliefs, stroke is not just a men’s health issue.

Did you know that stroke is a leading cause of death and disability for women globally?

According to the World Health Organization, stroke is the second leading cause of death for women world wide, after heart disease. In the United States specifically, stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in women. In fact, 1 in 4 strokes occur in women, and women are more likely to die from stroke than men. They’re also more likely to experience longer hospital stays after a stroke and have higher percentage of disability than their male counter parts. 

Women can be at higher risk for stroke due to a variety of unique factors. This includes:

  • Pregnancy (specifically having high blood pressure during pregnancy)
  • Certain contraceptives
  • Menopause

How to Manage your Risk


These numbers can be quite shocking (we certainly were!) but there’s good news! The Center for Disease Control reports that 4 of 5 strokes are preventable. 

So how do you reduce your risk for stroke? 

  • Know your numbers.
    • High blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes are all risk factors for stroke. Get your blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels checked regularly to make sure they are in a healthy range. This is especially important during pregnancy!
    • Aspirin is a blood thinner which can reduce your risk of clots and chances of an ischemic stroke. Speak with your doctor to see if this is a safe option to help manage your risk. 
  • Eat a healthy diet.
    • A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help lower your risk of stroke. Try to limit your intake of processed foods, salt, and saturated and trans fats.
  • Exercise regularly.
    • Physical activity can help lower your risk of stroke by improving blood flow and reducing blood pressure. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week. 
    • There are several forms of exercise and movement that can be adaptive to fit your individual needs. Some examples are chair yoga, pool exercise classes, walking, or sessions with a physical therapist or qualified personal trainer. 
  • Don’t smoke.
    • Smoking increases your risk of stroke, as well as other serious health problems. If you smoke, quitting is the best thing you can do for your health.
  • Get enough sleep.
    • Lack of sleep can increase your risk of stroke, so make sure to get at least 7-9 hours of sleep per night.
    • Check out our article on Belly Breathing which can be a great practice to help you sleep at night.

By taking these steps, you can help reduce your risk of stroke and live a healthier, happier life. 

Interested in adaptive practices that can help manage stress and anxiety as well as move your body? Check out on online chair yoga classes which cater to stroke survivors and individuals who have had a traumatic brain injury. 

Sources: World Health Organization; CDC Stroke & Women