According to the 2018 Stroke Report, Canadian women are disproportionately affected by stroke throughout their lives. More women die of stroke than men, more women are living with the effects of stroke, women have worse outcomes than men, and they face more challenges as they recover.
Yves Savoie, CEO, Heart and Stroke, shared the following data about women and strokes:
1. Stroke is deadlier for women than men – one third more women die of stroke than men in Canada.
2. More women are also living with stroke. Of the approximately 405,000 stroke survivors in Canada, 214,000 are women.
3. Women are 60% less likely to regain their independence, they make fewer functional gains and they have a worse quality of life.
4. Less than half of the stroke patients who participate in rehabilitation are women.
5. Women are less likely to return home after a stroke and twice as many women as men go to long-term care.
6. There is a higher chance of marital break-up post stroke if the woman has had the stroke.
Women’s physiology is different, and it puts them at great risk at key stages in their lives. Strokes in pregnant women are three times higher than in non-pregnant women of similar age.
Stroke risk increases in women after menopause, and the use of hormone replacement therapy increases the risk of stroke by up to 30%. Elderly women face the greatest stroke burden: they have the most serious strokes, and the most strokes of all individuals their age group. Women have the poorest outcomes, are more likely to lose their independence, and face the greatest challenges in recovery. For some reason, women have often been excluded from many research studies.
Aboriginal women are at an even greater risk for strokes, and face challenges accessing treatment and recovery support. South Asian women and women of African descent are also at higher risk than women of European descent.
Women are often at the center of stroke, whether they personally experience a stroke or are caregivers for a loved one who has had a stroke. Stroke has an impact on a woman’s role at home, at work, and in the community, straining relationships and threatening independence.
Dr. Patrice Lindsay, Director of Stroke at the Heart and Stroke Foundation, shared that, “women have so many pressures on them with work and family that they do not take enough time to put their own health first.”
It is very clear that more women need to recognise the life style choices that make stroke more likely and to take any of the warning signs of stroke very seriously for the sake of their own health and the ones that they love.