Stroke Prevention from a Gender Perspective


Dr Pere Cardona, coordinator of Neurovascular Pathology and the Stroke Unit at the Bellvitge University Hospital (HUB), addressed the risk factors, symptoms, treatment, and specific prevention of this disease in women during a conference at the Palmira Domènech center in El Prat de Llobregat on June 1st.

Dr Cardona, who is always attentive to audience participation and engagement in his talks, briefly recalled what a stroke is “a bleeding in the brain caused by the rupture of an artery or the interruption of blood circulation due to the obstruction of a blood vessel”. The doctor also pointed out some of its main symptoms, such as speech problems, loss of sensation or strength on one side of the body, difficulty walking, and visual disturbances, among others.

Although the symptoms of stroke are similar for both men and women, it is important to note that the impact of the disease, its risk factors, treatment control, and prevention strategies have a distinct gender focus. Dr Cardona provided insightful details regarding this aspect. Women are more prone to strokes compared to men. Statistics reveal that approximately 1 in 5 women are affected by them, whereas the figure stands at 1 in 6 for men. Furthermore, women face higher mortality rates related to strokes, particularly when compared to their male counterparts. Remarkably, women under the age of 45 have a risk that is 50% higher than men in the same age bracket. In this case, the higher life expectancy of women often plays against them in stroke cases, "as there are situations where they arrive at the hospital late and in very poor condition, because they live alone, for example," explained Dr Cardona.

In addition to the known risk factors for stroke, Dr Cardona discussed some others that are particularly relevant to women. These include menopause, the use of contraceptive pills and other hormonal therapies, the combination of smoking and migraines, and the occurrence of preeclampsia during pregnancy. Age also plays a significant role, as women over 75 years old face a higher risk of arrhythmias, which can trigger a stroke.

To address these specific risk factors, Dr Cardona recommended preventive measures. These include quitting smoking, especially for individuals who suffer from migraines, monitoring thyroid hormone and cholesterol levels, controlling blood pressure before starting contraceptive treatments, and detecting potential arrhythmias through primary care consultations, particularly for individuals over 75 years old. Adequate treatment during pregnancy with hypertension is also crucial.

Finally, the doctor emphasized the importance of time in minimizing brain damage caused by a stroke. He stressed that "time is brain," meaning that a prompt response is crucial. The so-called Codi Ictus (Stroke Code) is in place to ensure rapid and efficient care. Additionally, telemedicine and innovative post-discharge treatments provided by the Strack project offer valuable opportunities for improved stroke care.

The conference was organized by the El Prat City Council to commemorate Women's Health Action Day, which took place on May 28th.

Subscriu-te als nostres butlletins

Selecciona el butlletí que vols rebre: