Women’s Health Headlines

 

Women in Pettis County should be Aware of Stroke Risks

HLM News Service- Each year, 425,000 women in the United States suffer a stroke, about the equivalent of the population of Kansas City. However, a National Stroke Association (NSA) survey reports that many women are somewhat or not at all concerned about experiencing a stroke.

Although men are also at risk, strokes kill twice as many women as men each year.

 “Stroke uniquely impacts women because they tend to be older when they have their stroke and because of that, more women die from stroke than men,” said Dr. Dawn Kleindorfer, assistant professor of neurology at University of Cincinnati School of Medicine, in an article for the NSA. “Women tend to have more disability and have trouble doing the activities of their daily living after their stroke.”

 According to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS), Missourians suffered nearly 54,000 hospitalizations from stroke between 2004 and 2008. Between 1998 and 2008, there were nearly 25,000 deaths from stroke in Missouri. During this same time period, Pettis County had 325 stroke-related deaths. The highest total of stroke-related deaths in the state was in St. Louis County with 4,437. The lowest was in Worth County with 21.

Women who live in areas without easy access to health care services are at a major disadvantage. During regular check-ups, women can learn if they are at risk for a stroke. According to the NSA, only 27 percent of women could name more than two of the six primary stroke symptoms.

Many risk factors that lead to stroke can be prevented, such as high blood pressure and obesity. Other risk factors can include a lack of exercise, alcohol use, high cholesterol, and smoking and tobacco use. Simple lifestyle changes can dramatically reduce the risk of stroke. Exercising, lowering cholesterol through proper nutrition and not abusing alcohol can all lower the chance of stroke.

Looking for warning signs of stroke can also help. These signs can include:  sudden severe headaches with no cause; sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes; sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination; or sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, particularly on one side of the body.

A recent article published by ScienceDaily reports that people living in neighborhoods with sidewalks or trails, have a better chance of surviving a stroke. One of the reasons is because these areas allow for easy access to exercise. “‘Social isolation is unhealthy on many levels, and there is a lot of literature showing that increased social support improves not just stroke, but many other health outcomes in seniors,” said Cari Jo Clark, Sc.D., lead author of the study and assistant professor of Medicine at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.

Health Literacy Missouri and the National Stroke Association recommend the following steps to help prevent heart disease and stroke:

· Know your blood pressure levels. High blood pressure is a major stroke riskfactor if left untreated. Have your blood pressure checked each year.

· Stop smoking. Smoking doubles the risk of stroke. It damages blood vessel walls. It speeds up artery clogging and raises blood pressure. These things make the heart work harder.

· Control alcohol use. Alcohol use has been linked to stroke in many studies. Most doctors recommend not drinking at all or drinking only in moderation. Adults should have no more than two drinks each day.

· Manage diet and exercise. Excess weight strains the circulatory system. Exercise five times a week. Maintain a diet low in calories, salt, saturated and trans fats and cholesterol. Eat five servings of fruits and vegetables daily.

· Know your cholesterol levels. Cholesterol is a fatty substance in blood made by the body. It also comes in food. High cholesterol levels can clog arteries and cause a stroke. See a doctor if your total cholesterol level is more than 200.

For more information about stokes and stroke prevention, visit the NSA at www.stroke.org.

ABOUT Health Literacy Missouri: Health Literacy Missouri (www.healthliteracymissouri.org) defines health literacy as “getting and using easy to understand information about your health.” Health Literacy Missouri is a non-profit corporation based in St. Louis and serving the entire state of Missouri. Its goal is to improve the health of all Missourians while becoming a national leader in health literacy.

ABOUT Health Literacy Missouri: Health Literacy Missouri (www.healthliteracymissouri.org) defines health literacy as “getting and using easy to understand information about your health.” Health Literacy Missouri is a non-profit corporation based in St. Louis and serving the entire state of Missouri. Its goal is to improve the health of all Missourians while becoming a national leader in health literacy.