3 signs you're having a stroke that you probably don't know, including the symptoms more common in women

3 signs you’re having a stroke that you probably don’t know, including the symptoms more common in women

  • Strokes can cause typical and lesser-known symptoms, detailed in a new report.
  • One study found that women were more likely to experience headaches, confusion, or fall into a coma than men.
  • Stroke is a leading cause of death in the US, but it can be treated if symptoms are caught early.

The classic and lesser-known symptoms of stroke have been highlighted in a new report from the American Heart Association (AHA).

The review, published Thursday in the journal Circulation, outlines the latest knowledge about the symptoms of cardiovascular disease, including stroke.

An acute stroke, or “brain attack,” is when a blood vessel that supplies the brain with blood is blocked or broken, depriving it of oxygen and causing brain damage.

The AHA said recognizing and responding to stroke symptoms is “essential.” Timely treatment can prevent long-term disability and death.

Every 40 seconds, someone in the US has a stroke, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, strokes are the leading cause of death and long-term disability in the country.

A stroke can happen to anyone, but the risk of having one varies from person to person.

For example, the risk of black people having a first stroke is nearly twice as high as for white people, according to the CDC, and the risk of having a stroke doubles every decade from age 55. Medical conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and high cholesterol can all increase the risk of stroke.

Classic symptoms of a stroke include: a drooping face, slurred speech and weakness of the limbs

Classic stroke symptoms usually start suddenly and include: numbness or weakness in the face or limbs (usually on one side of the body), difficulty speaking, confusion, dizziness, difficulty walking due to loss of balance or coordination, and changes in sight in one or both eyes.

Atypical symptoms include dizziness and double vision

According to the AHA report, atypical stroke symptoms include “partial sensory deficit” — which includes not being able to fully feel touch, pain, or temperature — as well as dizziness and double vision.

The AHA said more research was needed to fully understand what stroke symptoms look like in different demographics, taking into account factors such as: race, ethnicity, age and type of stroke.

Women are more likely to experience symptoms such as headaches and coma

Women are more likely than men to develop non-focal symptoms, which are unrelated to a specific part of the brain, according to a 2021 review of the research cited in the AHA report.

These symptoms include headaches, altered mental status, coma and stupor – that is when a person is unresponsive, but strong, physical stimulation arouses them.

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