Why strokes can harm women, men differently

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It is often said that stroke affects men and women differently.

In a study from Massachusetts General Hospital, scientists found the location of the stroke’s damage in the brain may help explain why.

They found women have more strokes and are more likely to have symptoms such as fatigue and mental confusion rather than classic indications such as paralysis.

Women also tend to have more severe strokes.

In the study, the team aimed to learn more about sex-specific differences in stroke.

They examined more than 1,000 brain imaging scans of ischemic stroke patients. An ischemic stroke is caused by blocked blood flow in the brain.

They found that stroke severity in women is associated with lesions (areas of tissue damage) in the left hemisphere of the brain, in the vicinity of blood vessels at or near the back of the brain.

The team says in the study they had the opportunity to link specific lesions to stroke severity in men and women, and they could actually show that lesions in the left posterior [back] part of the brain lead to higher stroke severity in women than in men.

Identifying gender-specific areas of brain damage that are linked with certain disabilities after ischemic stroke could lead to more “sex-aware” treatments.

For example, women with stroke damage that affects vulnerable areas might benefit more than men from surgery to remove a blood clot.

The team says sex-informed acute stroke care has the potential to alleviate the burden of disease on an individual patient level, as well as broader and socioeconomically relevant levels.

If you care about stroke, please read studies about a hidden risk factor for stroke, and your blood type could predict your risk of having a stroke before age 60.

For more information about stroke, please see recent studies that diets high in flavonoids could help reduce stroke risk, and MIND diet could slow down cognitive decline after stroke.

The study was conducted by Dr. Natalia Rost et al and published in Nature Communications.

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