PROVIDENCE, R.I. (CBSMiami) – The number of people having strokes is dropping in the United States, but not among women.
CBS News Correspondent Danielle Nottingham caught up with Barby Crear, who was having a stress test.
The 67-year-old has heart disease which puts her at higher risk for stroke.
“I never thought women have strokes, I didn’t even think about that, you know,” she said. “All the people in my family who had strokes were guys.”
Now, a new study in the Journal of Neurology finds stroke rates are declining for men in America, but they’re holding steady for women.
“We’re still learning how to diagnose symptoms of stroke in women,” said Dr. Lisa Matzer, a cardiologist.
Researchers at Brown University looked at more than one million adults over 17 years.
Matzer believes part of the reason why the numbers haven’t improved for women is they don’t always know how to spot the signs.
“I don’t feel good. I feel tired. My muscles are weak. These are all symptoms, warning symptoms of a stroke or mini stroke. Yet, a woman isn’t understanding that these are symptoms that you see your doctor,” Matzer said.
High-blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes are stroke risk factors and have been increasing in women as obesity rates rise.
Since seeing Dr. Matzer, Crear said she’s changed her diet and has been able to cut back on cholesterol medication.
“I’ve started getting so much better it took a couple of years,” Crear said.
She will continue to get stress tests twice a year to monitor her health.