Why are women more likely than men to have a stroke?

The latest research that reveals that women are more likely to die of stroke than men. Two thirds of stroke victims are women and sadly amongst the hardest hit are women of working age with more than 6,000 women dying of stroke each year.

5 facts about women and strokes

  1. Stroke kills more women than breast cancer
  2. One in five women will have a stroke
  3. Women have them at any age
  4. If women survive a stroke, the disability stroke causes can be catastrophic
  5. Yet the good news is that many strokes are preventable 

Remembering the FAST test can save a life of someone you love.
The FAST test is an easy way to recognise and remember the signs of a stroke. Using the FAST test involves asking these simple questions:
Face: Check their face. Has their mouth drooped?
Arm: Can they lift both arms?
Speech: Is their speech slurred? Do they understand you?
Time: Time is critical. If you see any of these signs, call 000 straight away
Someone has a stroke every 10 minutes in Australia

Stroke hits women hardest
More women than men are dying of stroke every year, with the latest Australian Institute of Health and Welfare revealing almost two-thirds of stroke victims were female.

In 2013 there were 6,368 women who were killed by stroke in comparison to 4,181 men. Frighteningly, working age women are among those hardest hit, with stroke the fifth leading cause of death of women aged 45 to 64 years.

The National Stroke Foundation are part of the global effort to raise awareness of stroke for women. Globally women run a higher risk of stroke and are more likely than men to die as a result of this terrible disease.

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Infographic from World Stroke Campaign

Stroke kills more women than breast cancer and more men than prostate cancer
The National Stroke Foundation are highlighting the need for an accessible, affordable integrated health check program to be developed to help detect women’s risks of developing heart disease, stroke, chronic kidney disease or type 2 diabetes at general practitioners (GPs) nationally. This health check would detect women - and men - at risk of stroke before a life- threatening emergency strikes.

1 in 5 women and 1 in 6 men globally will experience a stroke in their lifetime

National Stroke Foundation Chief Executive Officer and WSO board member responsible for the campaign Dr Erin Lalor said one in five women and one in six men globally will experience a stroke in their lifetime.

“Too many women are needlessly dying every year from stroke – a largely preventable disease. Mothers, sisters and friends’ lives could be saved by knowledge of their stroke risk, making simple lifestyle changes or treating chronic conditions such as blood pressure,’’ Dr Lalor said.

“Other than their longer life expectancy, research shows women have an increased burden of major stroke risk factors including high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, diabetes, depression and obesity.

“An integrated health check is the best way to find out for women to understand their risk of having a stroke by taking into account all of these risk factors, instead of each one individually.

“The Federal Government must fund the implementation of a nationally consistent program. The sooner GPs routinely offer an integrated health check, the earlier they can act to prevent a life-threatening event,’’ she said.

In 2015 there will be almost 440,000 people living with the effects of stroke. This is predicted to increase to 709,000 by 2032

World Stroke Organisation President Professor Stephen Davis echoed Dr Lalor’s comments pointing out that women were at higher lifetime risk of stroke.

“Furthermore, specific risk factors and settings in women include pregnancy, the post-partum period and some hormonal replacement therapies. Some kinds of stroke, such as aneurysmal subarachnoid haemorrhage and cerebral venous thrombosis, are more common in women,’’ Professor Davis said.

“For all these reasons, a greater awareness and focus on women and stroke is a global priority for the WSO.”


A simple animation explaining what a stroke is, how to recognise key symptoms, how it is treated, and ways to prevent strokes from happening

What exactly is a stroke?
A stroke happens when the blood supply to part of a person’s brain is cut off. Without blood, brain cells can be damaged or die. This damage can have different effects, depending on where it happens in the brain. It can affect the body and mobility, speech as well as how a person thinks and feels. Stroke is the number two cause of death and a leading cause of disability globally.

Having a stroke increases the risk of dementia
Stroke also increases the risk of dementia. This is particularly relevant to women, given their greater lifetime stroke risk.

Led by Professor Vladimir Hachinski and endorsed by many leading global health bodies, this Proclamation emphasises the close link between stroke and dementia, and that dementia may be potentially preventable by stroke prevention strategies including lifestyle changes, identification and treatment of risk factors.

The World Stroke Organisation and National Stroke Foundation are calling on women to be aware of their stroke risk and how best to manage it. Find out more about stroke and the global campaign at worldstrokecampaign.org.

For more on the World Stroke Organisation Campaign visit their website here.

Have you or someone you love had a stroke? Join the conversation below.