4. Migraines with Aura

Migraines With Aura

Migraines are more common in women. According to the American College of Cardiology, migraines with visual disruptions, known as auras, are a risk factor for stroke. Migraines are known to constrict brain blood vessels, and could contribute to cutting off blood supply to the brain, says Dr. Greene-Chandos. “This increases the risk of stroke,” she says.

Related: 5 Signs you’re Hooked on Caffeine and How to Cut Back

3. Autoimmune Diseases

Autoimmune Disease

Women are more susceptible to autoimmune conditions like lupus than men, Dr. Greene-Chandos says. Autoimmune diseases can raise the risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease, as shown in recent research from Spain. The link may be caused by inflammation, says Dr. Greene-Chandos. “Autoimmune inflammatory conditions put women at risk for inflammation of the cerebral vasculature (blood vessels).”

2. Mental Health Problems

Mental Health Problems

Although mental health may not be 100 percent connected to stroke, it is, however, evident that stress is a risk factor for high blood pressure and cardiovascular problems, and women may be uniquely disposed to stress, says Dr. Bushnell. According to a preliminary study from Harvard, the report found that increased activity in the amygdala, the area of the brain that responds to stress, was found to be greatly associated with the risk of stroke.

1. Irregular Heartbeat

Irregular Heartbeat

Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is a symptom that is specifically of concern as women age. According to the American Heart Association, women who have untreated AFib are five times more likely to have a stroke. “Atrial fibrillation leads to blood clot formation in the heart, which can then break off and lodge in a blood vessel in the brain,” Dr. Bushnell says. Unfortunately, there is no known reason why AFib is a bigger issue for women than men. The American Heart Association, along with the American Stroke Association, guidelines advise that women over the age of 75 should be screened for AFib.

Related: 7 Health Problems Your Hands Can Help Predict

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