Almost 60% more women than men dying from stroke in Ireland
News Release - National Stroke Week
- Irish Heart Foundation urges women to Act F.A.S.T for National Stroke Week 16-22 April
- Stroke kills twice as many women as breast cancer
To mark National Stroke Week 16-22 April, the Irish Heart Foundation has urged women to be extra vigilant about stroke warning signs after new statistics revealed that on average 60% more women than men are dying from the disease in Ireland.
According to the national charity fighting heart disease and stroke, the latest CSO 2010 figures showed the average stroke death rate was almost 60% higher for women. In total 1,258 women died from stroke during 2010 out of a total of 2,053 stroke fatalities nationwide.
Around the country this was trend was mirrored in most counties but in some cases it was significantly higher with more than twice as many women as men, dying from stroke. In counties Kilkenny, Sligo, Waterford, Louth and Mayo the number of women dying more than doubled the number of male stroke deaths in those counties. Of these, Louth showed the largest differential where, at 39 deaths, more than three times as many women died from stroke compared to 12 male stroke deaths in 2010. Conversely, the only two counties to experience marginally more male deaths than women from stroke were Carlow and Monaghan.
Irish Heart Foundation Medical Director Dr Angie Brown said stroke is Ireland’s third biggest killer disease, so everyone should make sure they know the symptoms and understand that the only response when the disease strikes is to call 999 immediately.
Dr Brown said: “The higher death rate from stroke among women is not widely known. The fact is that stroke kills twice as many women as breast cancer in Ireland and we are particularly asking women to be aware of the F.A.S.T. warning signs during this year’s National Stroke Week.”
The F.A.S.T. acronym stands for:
- Face – has their face fallen on one side?
- Arms – can they raise both arms and keep them there?
- Speech – is their speech slurred?
- Time – time to call 999 if you see any one of these signs.
According to Dr Brown, the main reason more women die from stroke is that they live longer than men, resulting in a greater likelihood of being affected by the disease. However, other factors are also at play such as the higher risk of stroke of women with atrial fibrillation than men with the same condition. Atrial fibrilliation is the most common form of cardiac arrhythmia or irregular heartbeat and is associated with strokes that are more severe and are more likely to be fatal.
But the Irish Heart Foundation says the good news is that because of improvements to hospital services for stroke – such as the development of a national network of stroke units and the wider availability of the potentially life-saving clot-buster treatment called thrombolysis – stroke sufferers can massively influence their own outcome by getting to hospital FAST.
“It is estimated that service improvements delivered by the HSE in the last 18 months could ultimately reduce the death rate from stroke by up to 25%,” said Dr Brown. “But they can only work for patients who get into hospital quickly enough to benefit from them.
“The fact is that the average stroke destroys around two million brain cells every minute. So the quicker you get to hospital after a stroke, literally the more of your brain the doctors can save."
Dr Brown added that in addition to lives that could still be saved after stroke strikes, there was a lot that people could do to prevent themselves from having a stroke in the first place.
The Irish Heart Foundation Medical Director concluded: “Lifestyle changes such as drinking in moderation, not smoking, being more active and improving your diet can have a dramatic impact in lowering stroke risk. It is also crucial to reduce high blood pressure and cholesterol levels. It is estimated that 40% of strokes could be prevented through better control of blood pressure.”
More information about stroke and Stroke Week activities is available on www.stroke.ie, whilst medical queries can be answered through the Irish Heart Foundation’s National Heart & Stroke Helpline 1890 432 787, Mon to Fri, 10am to 5pm.
Media Queries to Ceri Teggin, Communications Office, Irish Heart Foundation
Direct line: 01-6346917 Main Switch: 01-6685001
Or contact Caroline Cullen, Communications Manager, Irish Heart Foundation
Direct line: 01-6346908 Mobile: 086-6049282
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