How does being a woman make me more at risk for stroke?

A stroke affects the brain tissue and it occurs because blood flow is blocked to a certain part, or many parts of the brain. Recent studies have found that women may not have been adequately treated for their personal stroke risk factors during their routine medical visits.

Two main factors that impact a woman’s neuro health are: the state of hormones and the state of blood vessels.

If you are planning to become pregnant, vascular risk factors such as heart disease and high blood pressure, personal or family history of stroke, or if you have had a clot form in any part of your body, this may put you at a higher risk for developing a minor or devastating stroke event.


 You have an 80% increased risk for stroke during the time you live after you have been diagnosed with a blood clot in your lungs, which is called a pulmonary embolism.

Common stroke risk factors for both women and men include:

-High blood pressure and high cholesterol

-Being inactive (not getting enough regular exercise)

– Diabetes

Women, in particular, are more at risk for stroke when they suffer from a migraine variation called migraine with aura, when they use oral contraceptives, and when they are pregnant. 

An aura typically occurs when the vision sense is impaired. The symptoms of an aura are thought to be vascular changes in the brain associated with the migraine process.

Oral contraceptives are hormones. These hormones increase clotting factors in the blood, which can increase the risk of stroke in women.

Pregnancy is a health state that can be dangerous because the body experiences changes in blood flow, changes in the blood vessel wall, and changes in clotting factors. Further, pregnancy complications, such as pre-eclampsia or elevated blood pressure in pregnancy also place women at higher risk for a stroke or clot in a brain blood vessel (artery or vein).

Scientists who research the health condition of stroke looked at data from five major stroke trials, which included 20,000 patients. These researchers discovered that although women are more likely to live after they have suffered from a stroke , they are at a higher risk of greater disability and poor quality of life.

Your Brain Doctor’s tools, guidance, and informations is designed so that women globally live with less disability throughout their lives.


-References: George Institute for Global Health at University South Wales, Australia, 2019.