Women may suffer more than men when it comes to handling the days following a stroke.
Every year close to 800,000 Americans suffer a stroke, according to the Centers for Disease Control, and 130,000 die. For stroke survivors, recovery can be long and difficult, with patients suffering from issues such as mobility, speech and sleep.
According to a new study by researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, women have poorer quality of life after a stroke than men.
The study assessed the mental and physical health of 1,370 patients ages 56 to 77. The patients’ quality of life was measured at three months and one year after a stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA, or mini-stroke). It found that although more people survive strokes than in the last decade, the quality of life for these survivors is low, especially for women.
At three months women were more likely than men to report problems with mobility, pain and discomfort, anxiety and depression. After a year women still had lower quality-of-life scores overall than men. The difference was greatest in those over age 75.
UK experts said women tended to have strokes later in life, which lowers their chances of natural recovery post-stroke. Marital status did have a significant impact in study results, with married women faring far better than their single or widowed counterparts. Dr. Madina Kara, a neuroscientist at the UK Stroke Association, said this study shows that “women over 65 are more likely to be living alone, which could be a contributing factor to their reduced quality of life, as they have inadequate support.”
Stroke is when the brain doesn’t get enough blood. Both women and men have stroke risks such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and smoking. But women have additional risk factors such as hypertension during pregnancy, use of birth control pills, and lifestyle disorders.
The study was published in the journal Neurology.