A few years back, my grandmother had a stoke. It was minor, and she’s now truly okay, but it scared me. Truly freaked me out to the point that I was now certain one morning I would wake up and all my female loved ones would have to face this, as well. I never considered the men in my family dealing with a stroke. They don’t have the same stressors, and don’t have to worry too much about how their kids, grandkids, uncles, etc. are doing every moment of every.single.day. I am not aware of too many medical reasons for stokes, I just know how to recognize them. I made sure I knew every sign after it happened so close to home.
Women’s health is devastatingly different from men’s health, and yet it was not until I reached JMU that I became aware of this fact. They simply failed to teach you that stuff, or studies had not been done. So imagine my surprise (why am I still so ridiculously surprised?) when Jezebel released that stroke guidelines had changed. No, not just changed, but they should have always been different. I’m not too aware of preventative measures, and it blew my mind that not only was my grandmother at risk, but my mother, and even myself. I panicked. So I scrambled to the Washington Post article that had initially reported on the new findings and wanted to know more.
I found things I should know, and things I’ve seen in women my whole life, but now it was attributing them to stroke concerns? The Post reports “Women are also more likely to have risk factors associated with stroke, such as migraines, depression, diabetes and the abnormal heart rhythm known as atrial fibrillation.” So how do we prevent these causes as well as strokes? “It’s the third-leading cause of death for women, after heart disease and cancer.” This truly makes me re-think how I’m treating my own body, but what about university-aged women? Women in their thirties? Why are we also at risk for stroke?
Blood pressure. It’s that simple. All we need to do is keep a monitoring of it. We should have our blood pressure monitored before we take birth control, and before we consider having a child. Blood pressure can rise, and with all those hormones moving around, a stroke is a very possible end to something we all seem to do. I can’t remember getting my blood pressure monitored, and most women I know don’t consider that before having a baby. Hell, many women I know are still uninformed on what actually happens to you when you’re pregnant.
The deal is, we need to change our habits. We need to eat better, and take care of our bodies earlier rather than later. We need to exercise, something I myself try my hardest to avoid on a daily basis. We need to have our bodies monitored closely, especially our blood pressure, and be prepared to make hard choices about what we plan to do in the future for both ourselves, and our mothers, daughters, grandmothers. We have a lot of work to do.