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Women's Health

Women’s stroke rate stubbornly steady

November 1, 2017

As a group, men have nudged down their stroke numbers over the past decade. Why haven't women seen the same improvement?

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Men are less likely to have strokes than they were 10 years ago, but the risk for women has stayed about the same, according to a study of stroke data from Ohio and Kentucky, published online on August 21 by Neurology.

The question is, why?

"This study raises important concerns about the lack of decline in stroke rates in women," says Dr. Kathryn M. Rexrode, associate professor of medicine and chief of the Division of Women's Health at Harvard Medical School. Study authors suggested it's likely that better treatments for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes, and a reduction in the number of people smoking helped to reduce the risk for men for having the most common type of stroke — ischemic stroke, which is typically caused by a clot that blocks blood flow to the brain. But women, who in theory should benefit from the same interventions, didn't see any improvement in their stroke rates over the study period.

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