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Women Face Additional Stroke Risks: April 1, 2014

Every year in the U.S. more than three-quarters of a million people suffer a stroke. Jennifer Lin never thought she’d be one of them.

“My stroke happened in 2006 around September – I was 36 years old.”

A health professional herself, Lin failed to get her head around what was happening.

“I felt a little tingling in my left hand and I went to work and I was like ‘something is not right’”.

It took six hours to finally make it the hospital and get a diagnosis. Lin was a text-book case, only she didn’t know it.

“I had a past medical history of hypertension. I was taking birth control pills,” Lin says.

Sixty percent of all stroke-related deaths occur in women. While men and women share many of the same risk factors, others are gender-specific. So a new set of guidelines are being introduced that focus on females.

“The recent guidelines that the American Heart Association put out, it’s really targeting the younger women,” says Dr. Wendy Bond, a neurologist on medical staff with Lee Memorial Health System.

Dr. Bond is Lin’s doctor. She’s also worked with a handful of young, female stroke victims.

Several of these newly released risk factors are dangerous when combined with high blood pressure.

“They want you to make sure that you monitor your blood pressure before going on the birth control pill and to stop smoking,” Dr. Bond says.

Frequent migraines with auras and aspects of pregnancy round out the list.

“Pregnancy is a big one especially your blood pressure during your pregnancy. And if your blood pressure goes up high enough and you spill protein into your urine you can get preeclampsia and that is a huge risk factor for stroke down the road".

Jennifer lived to talk about it. She fears other women may be naive and miss the message.

“Until a patient comes along like me, then they wake up,” Lin says.