The Deadly Health Condition One in Five Women Can’t Recognize

Twenty percent of American women remain in the dark when it comes to spotting the common signs of a stroke, says a new report by Columbia University.

Strokes rank just behind heart disease and cancer when it comes to leading causes of death for females, yet a survey of more than 1,200 women revealed that one in five failed to name a single stroke symptom.

Here’s a list of the typical stroke signs, ranked in order of the number of women who could recognize them:

  • Sudden weakness or numbness of face or limb on one side: 51 percent
  • Loss of or trouble with talking or understanding speech: 44 percent
  • Severe sudden headache: 23 percent
  • Unexplained dizziness: 20 percent
  • Sudden dimness, loss of vision, often in one eye: 18 percent

Thankfully, once the onset of a stroke was recognized, the majority of women said calling 9-1-1 would be their first order of business. “The data suggest that women are aware of what to do when experiencing signs of stroke, but at least half would not be able to recognize the signs should they occur,” study authors note.

According to the National Stroke Association, women in particular should also be on the lookout for more unusual stroke symptoms, including sudden:

  • Face and limb pain
  • Hiccups
  • Nausea
  • General weakness
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Heart palpitations

Quick stroke treatment may prevent permanent disability

Addressing this shocking knowledge gap is especially essential in light of the fact that “time is brain“ when it comes to stroke diagnosis and treatment.

A 2013 University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) study found a distinct correlation between faster treatment of ischemic stroke (caused by a blockage in the blood vessels of the brain) and better patient outcomes.

“The sooner treatment is started, the better,” says Jeffery Saver, M.D., professor of neurology and director of the UCLA Stroke Center, in a press release. “Beginning treatment earlier resulted in an improved ability to walk, the ability to remain living independently, less bleeding in the brain and reduced mortality.”

Clot-busting medication, if received within three hours of the onset of the first symptoms, can drastically reduce the chances that a person experiencing an ischemic stroke will develop a long-term disability.

Indeed, an analysis of data from nearly 1,400 hospitals found that, for each 15 minutes that was saved when seeking stroke treatment, an individual would experience a 4 percent increase in their chances for walking again, a three percent increase in their chances of going home, and a 4 percent reduction in their chances of dying or having a brain hemorrhage.

While many factors play into determining how rapidly an individual receives stroke treatment, the one element everyone can control is their ability to recognize the warning signs. To help educate people about stroke symptoms, the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association developed the acronym—FAST—face-drooping, arm weakness issues, speech that is slurred or difficult, time to call 9-1-1.


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By Anne-Marie Botek, Editor

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Marija Mohoric
Maria Mohoricabout a year ago


Janice Thompson
Janice Thompsonabout a year ago

FAST Stroke Acronym - Use it or Lose it.
F = Face: Is one side of the face drooping down?
A = Arm: Can the person raise both arms, or is one arm weak?
S = Speech: Is speech slurred or confusing?
T = Time: Time is critical!! Call 9-1-1 immediately!

Carole R.
Carole R.1 years ago

Good to know. Thanks.

Russ L.
Russell L.1 years ago

Humm maybe stop eating so much pork and animal fat? Maybe some fresh veggies and fruit? Maybe get out of your SUV?

Elena T.
Elena Poensgen1 years ago

Thank you :)

Lisa D.
Lisa d.1 years ago

Its very important to be aware of any changes your body goes through, most likely they are normal.. but just in case be safe and have them checked

this happened to me

it was only a slight stroke thankfully but I was lucky, however I was stupid and didn't know any of these signs at the time.. (this was only 3 years ago, I was 24)

my symptoms were these:
Immediately - half my body was numb (but only for a couple of hours - afterwards my body was back to normal)
I went home and slept - for 24 hours I couldn't wake up - I was feeling too tired to get up
My speech was slurred (only slightly)- and I kept mixing up the words in the sentences as I was speaking
One of my eyes wasn't fully opening
it took me like or 4/5 days before I went to hospital for a proper check up & I only went because my mum knew something else was wrong with me because I would not admit it and that was when we found out that I had suffered a slight stroke.

Val M.
Val M.1 years ago


Dot A.
Dot A.1 years ago

Very constructive and helpful, AgingCare!

Kathleen R.
Kathleen R.1 years ago

Thanks for the information.

Shirley S.
Shirley S.1 years ago

I was surprised to see HICCUPS as a symptom.