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Strokes kill twice as many women in Ireland as breast cancer

Figures show 42% more women in Ireland than men die from stroke, though men have a greater chance of having a stroke.
Mar 23rd 2015, 8:39 AM 8,097 2

TODAY MARKS THE beginning of National Stroke Week and new figures reveal Irish women are at a significantly higher stroke death risk than men.

Provisional figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show that 42% more women than men died from stroke in Ireland in 2013, though men are 19% more likely to have a stroke.

A total of 1,174 women died in 2013 out of a national total of 2,001 stroke-related deaths.

In counties such as Carlow, Clare, Offaly, Monaghan, Roscommon and Sligo the differential was even higher with stroke-related mortality among women close to or exceeding double that of men. In Laois the rate was almost three times higher. Only two counties had higher mortality among men – Kilkenny and Leitrim.

Speaking today, Chris Macey, Head of Advocacy at the Irish Heart Foundation, said the higher death rate from stroke among women is not widely know.

“The fact is that stroke kills almost twice as many women as breast cancer in Ireland and we are particularly asking women to be aware of the FAST warning signs during this year’s National Stroke Week.”

The FAST 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 can see any one of these signs.

According to the IHF, the main reason more women die from stroke is that they live longer than men, resulting in greater liklihood of being affected by the disease.

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However, other factors are also at play such as the higher risk of stroke in women with atrial fibrillation, or an irregular heartbeat.

“The good news is that acute stroke services in Ireland have undergone rapid improvement in recent years, which means that more people than ever are surviving stroke and getting their lives back in the aftermath,” Macey said.

“But to make the most of these enhanced services, it’s vital that people get expert help as FAST as possible. 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.”

He also advised people to do everything they can to avoid having a stroke in the first place. Lifestyle changes such as drinking in moderation, not smoking, being more active and improving your diet can all have an impact in lowering the stroke risk.

Read: Find out how high the rate of heart attack death is at your local hospital>

Read: Your five-a-day of COFFEE could help reduce your risk of heart disease>

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Michelle Hennessy


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