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Women Not Stopping for Stroke Signs: June 7, 2014

Jennifer Lin was 36 when she became a statistic.

“I was actually going to work one day and I had a severe headache; the right side of my head. I’m not a headache kind of a person so I was like’ this is kind of odd’,” Lin recalls.

The gravity of the situation didn’t sink in for hours; half a day went by before Lin would seek help.

“My arm was continuously numb. I went to the fridge to get something to eat and everything collapsed,” says Lin.

She was diagnosed in the ER of HealthPark Medical Center.

“They have CAT scans and sure enough - they showed a stroke,” says Lin.

A recent study found 1 in 5 women can’t identify a single stroke symptom, although it is the third leading cause of death among women.

“Some of the warning signs could be dizziness, numbness and tingling, elevated blood pressure, family history, high cholesterol,” says Lee Memorial Health System staff neurologist Dr. Wendy Bond. “Certainly if you’re a smoker that could put you at risk.”

Adding to that list- the American Heart Association put out new, specific symptoms aimed at women. Birth control is a risk factor, so are aural migraines, and the pregnancy complication preeclampsia. Putting several factors together increases risk down the road.

“It’s really targeting the younger women. They want to make sure you’re not smoking if you’re getting those types of migraines. They want you to make sure that you monitor your blood pressure before going on the birth control pill,” says Dr. Bond.

Being on birth control and having hypertension meant Lin had potential risk factors but didn’t know it.

“It turns out they were there all along. There needs to more awareness and that’s why I’m here today.

Each year more than 100,000 young to middle age women suffer a stroke. Most never saw it coming.