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Stroke is a major cause of death and disability. A stroke occurs when part of your brain doesn't get the blood that it needs. Depending on the parts of the brain damaged by a stroke, people who survive a stroke can have problems with:
- Thinking and memory
A stroke happens fast. The most common signs of stroke are sudden:
- Numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg (mainly on one side of the body)
- Trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- Trouble walking, dizziness, or loss of balance
- Confusion or trouble talking or understanding speech
- Very bad headache with no known cause
Women may also have other sudden symptoms, such as feeling sick to your stomach, face and arm or leg pain, hiccups, feeling very tired, chest pain, shortness of breath, or a racing heartbeat.
If you have any of these symptoms, call 911. Getting treatment within three hours from the start of symptoms increases your chances of walking away from a stroke with few or no disabilities.
Stroke kills 1 in 3 Latinas. Many factors contribute to Latinas' high stroke risk, as well as high risk of death from stroke. Latinas may not know the signs of stroke or the importance of seeking treatment right away. Lack of insurance or access to care keep many Latinas from seeking help for symptoms or getting care that can help to prevent stroke. Latinas also have high rates of some risk factors that make stroke more likely, such as:
Latinos tend to have strokes at younger ages. Hemorrhagic (hem-ur-RAJ-ihk) stroke also appears to be more common among Latinos than non-Hispanic whites. This type of stroke happens when a blood vessel breaks and bleeds into the brain. Together, all these factors put Latinos at high risk of stroke. The good news is that you can take steps to lower your risk of stroke:
- Keep a healthy weight.
- Make physical activity a habit. Health benefits are gained by doing the following each week:
- 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity
- 1 hour and 15 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity
- A combination of moderate and vigorous aerobic activity
- Muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days of the week
- Eat heart-healthy foods. Eat whole-grain foods, vegetables, and fruit. Choose lean meats and low-fat cheese and dairy products. Limit foods that have lots of saturated fat, like butter, whole milk, baked goods, ice cream, fatty meats, and cheese.
- Know your numbers. Ask your doctor to check your blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar. Follow your doctor's orders to keep your cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood glucose levels under control.
- Don't smoke. If you smoke, try to quit. For help along the way, check out our Quitting Smoking section.
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More information on Stroke
Read more from womenshealth.gov
- Stroke Fact Sheet - This fact sheet answers questions about stroke, including information about warning signs, effects, and risk factors.
Explore other publications and websites
- Age Page: Stroke - This fact sheet provides information on strokes and offers tips for stroke prevention. It also gives a list of warning signs for stroke.
- Apoplejía: Factores de riesgo y síntomas - Este recurso (en forma de marcador de páginas), advierte sobre los factores que pueden ocasionar la apoplejía y los síntomas que pueden indicar que alguien esté sufriendo una apoplejía y necesite ayuda médica de emergencia.
- Brain Basics: Preventing Stroke - This brochure provides information on stroke prevention. It includes stroke warning signs, an explanation of risk factors, and a description of treatable risk factors.
- Cómo prevenir un accidente cerebrovascular (Stroke) - Este folleto explica qué es la apoplejía, y cuáles son los síntomas y los factores de riesgo. Anima al lector a intentar a reducir o eliminar los factores de riesgo para prevenir la apoplejía.
- ¿Cuáles son las señales de aviso del ataque cerebral? - Esta publicación contiene las señales de aviso de un ataque al corazón y de un ataque al cerebro y lo que uno debe hacer.
- Know Stroke. Know the Signs. Act in Time. - This publication features information on what a stroke is, the signs and symptoms of stroke, and what can be done to prevent a stroke.
- Los ataques al cerebro (Copyright © American Heart Association) - Esta publicación contiene información sobre los ataques al cerebro, por qué ocurren, los tipos de ataques. También incluye los factores de riesgo, y los factores que uno puede controlar y los que uno no puede controlar. Habla de las medidas que uno puede tomar para prevenir un ataque cerebral y si es posible detener un ataque cerebral en curso.
- NINDS Stroke Information Page - This online publication discusses the types of stroke, treatment options, and ongoing stroke research.
- The Brain — Effects of Stroke (Copyright © American Medical Association) - This colorful diagram of the brain shows the damage a stroke can do and includes a glossary of stroke-related terms.
- Women and Stroke: Unique Symptoms in Women (Copyright © National Stroke Association) - Women can experience stroke symptoms differently than men. This fact sheet describes these unique symptoms and provides guidelines on how to act "F.A.S.T." and respond to an emergency situation.
Connect with other organizations
Content last updated: July 16, 2012.
Resources last updated: September 23, 2013.
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