Harvard Women's Health Watch

Women may not be getting optimal stroke treatment

Women who have a stroke caused by a blockage in an artery to the brain (ischemic stroke) are less likely than men to receive the drugs they need to relieve the blood clot. That's according to a study published in July in the journal Stroke. The authors looked at data from a study of 5,515 stroke patients in the Netherlands, about half of them women. Only 11% of women were treated with the clot-dissolving drug alteplase, compared with 14% of men. The reason for this gender discrepancy, the authors say, is that women typically arrived at the hospital later than men—an average of 27 minutes later. For clot-busting medicines to work, they generally must be given within four hours of when symptoms start, but fewer women than men (27% versus 33%) arrived at the hospital within that four-hour window. This study underscores why it's so important to pay attention to symptoms like paralysis or numbness of the face or body, and get medical help right away.

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