A new study in Stroke Journal from the American Heart Association says that many women can’t accurately identify the signs of a stroke. That lack of stroke awareness could prevent women from getting effective treatment and may lead to serious consequences like death or disability. Chicago attorney Howard Ankin has experience helping stroke victims obtain Social Security benefits. He welcomes any effort to inform the public on how to identify stroke symptoms.
Stroke is the third leading cause of death among women. It’s the leading cause of long-term disability. Women historically suffer seizures with greater frequency than men. On average, 55,000 more women suffer strokes than men.
To address the issue of strokes in women, The American Heart Association commissioned a survey of more than 1,200 women. In the survey, women were asked to identify which conditions were symptomatic of a stroke. Only 51 percent of survey participants recognized sudden weakness or numbness on one side of the body as a stroke symptom. Forty-four percent correctly identified speech troubles as a sign of a stroke.
Identifying stroke symptoms is important because it can help lead to more effective treatment. Certain clot-busting drugs can be effective in combating long term effects from a stroke. However, those drugs do not work after a long period of time. Women who can’t identify a stroke as it’s happening could be more vulnerable to death or disability.
A separate study in the Stroke Journal highlighted the importance of treating strokes quickly. That study found that women who received treatment almost immediately gained the equivalent of one extra healthy day in their lifetime. However, women who did not receive the clot-busting drugs lost nearly a month of their lives to disability.
Chicago attorney Howard Ankin has seen firsthand the devastation that a stroke can create. Stroke sufferers are sometimes unable to work and need long-term care. While Social Security disability benefits can help pay for that care, Mr. Ankin says more work is needed to help women avoid disability altogether. He supports all efforts to increase stroke symptom awareness.