POSTED: Friday, February 7, 2014 - 10:00am
UPDATED: Friday, February 7, 2014 - 10:04am
(NBC NEWS) — For the first time, experts have developed a set of stroke prevention guidelines specifically for women.
Some risk factors are specific to women, like severe high blood pressure during pregnancy and gestational diabetes.
Birth control pills can also raise the risk, slightly, as can migraine headaches accompanied by a visual disturbance called an aura. Those are four times more common in women than in men.
"For women with migraines with aura, don't smoke, because the combination is likely to increase the risk," warns Dr. Cheryl Bushnell, the author of the new guidelines.
Type II diabetes is another risk factor as well.
Doctors say making changes as early as possible in a woman's life is important as women tend to live longer than men, and therefore have a higher lifetime risk for stroke.
Depression and emotional stress can also contribute to stroke risk, and are also more common among women.