• Mayo Clinic Minute

    Mayo Clinic Minute: What women need to know about stroke

Stroke is a medical emergency. The faster you get treatment, the better your chances are of recovering. May is Stroke Awareness Month to raise awareness about stroke prevention and treatment. It's also Women's Health Awareness Month.

Mayo Clinic experts say women with stroke symptoms should not delay seeking treatment. They say some women don't realize the symptoms could be life-threatening, and don't get the care they need in time.

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Women ─ even young women ─ listen up, and learn about your risk of stroke.

"Risk factors for women are essentially the same as they are for men," says Dr. Maisha Robinson, a Mayo Clinic neurologist.

But there are differences, particularly for pregnant women and women on the pill because they have an increased risk of stroke.

"Sometimes, particularly in younger women, the stroke symptoms are not recognized as quickly as we would hope that they would be," says Dr. Robinson.

She says prompt treatment of symptoms improves your chances of recovery. Symptoms include difficulty talking, walking or thinking; sudden vision changes; sudden, severe headache; or numbness or paralysis. If symptoms happen, call 911 — no matter how old you are.

And to prevent stroke, you should manage health issues that increase your risk, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, excess weight and inactivity. And if you smoke, stop.