Although the risk of stroke increases with age, it is possible for middle-aged and younger women to suffer a stroke.


A stroke happens suddenly without warning, and the results can be devastating. That’s why it’s important to recognize stroke symptoms and act quickly.


“Women are at a higher risk for stroke than men, and this higher risk might be related to several factors,” said Dr. Olga Brusil, neurologist at Houston Methodist Baytown Hospital.


Risk factors that may contribute to stroke include:


• High blood pressure during pregnancy increases the risk of stroke, with the highest risk during the third trimester and postpartum. Preeclampsia (a condition in which blood pressure rises sharply during pregnancy) doubles women’s stroke risk and quadruples the risk of high blood pressure later in life. “High blood pressure during pregnancy should be treated with medications and monitored closely,” Brusil said.


• Birth control pills can increase the risk of stroke. The risk is small for women who don’t have other risk factors, but it is significantly higher for women who smoke, have high blood pressure or have a history of migraine headaches.


• Migraine headaches with aura (sensory disturbances, such as flashes of light, blind spots and other vision changes) may increase the risk of stroke in younger women.


• Atrial fibrillation can increase stroke risk among women over age 75.


“Women are more likely than men to have atypical, vague symptoms, which can make it difficult to recognize when someone is having a stroke. They’re also more likely than men to brush off symptoms and delay getting help,” Brusil explained.


It’s crucial to familiarize yourself with all the possible signs of stroke. If you or a loved one experiences any of the following symptoms, call 911 and seek immediate attention — even if you’re not sure it’s a stroke.


Common stroke symptoms for both men and women:

• Face drooping

• Arm weakness

• Speech difficulty

• Sudden vision problems

• Trouble walking or lack of coordination

• Severe headache with no known cause


Unique stroke symptoms in women:

• Confusion, disorientation or memory problems

• Fatigue

• General weakness

• Nausea or vomiting


During a stroke, the brain is deprived of oxygen when blood flow is cut off by a clot or ruptured vessel. Getting treatment quickly can save a life and even reverse the stroke. However, the most effective stroke treatments are only helpful when administered within three to four-and-a-half hours of the onset of symptoms. Don’t delay getting medical help because you think your symptoms may turn out to be a false alarm. Call 911 right away.


Houston Methodist Baytown Hospital has earned the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Get with the Guidelines-Stroke Honor Roll Elite Plus Achievement Award, recognizing the hospital’s commitment to ensuring stroke patients receive timely and leading-edge treatment for stroke.


Houston Methodist Baytown Hospital is taking every necessary precaution during the coronavirus pandemic to keep you and our staff members safe. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we are:

  • Screening all patients, ensuring only those without COVID-19 symptoms are seen in the office
  • Wearing masks and personal protective equipment (PPE) while providing patient care
  • Reorganizing waiting rooms and check-in lines to ensure social distancing
  • Implementing additional sanitation processes to disinfect all equipment and surfaces


The physicians at Houston Methodist Neurology Associates—Dr. Brusil and Ruby Parveen, MD—use advanced procedures and techniques to treat a wide range of neurologic conditions, including neck and back pain, headaches and migraines, epilepsy and seizure conditions and memory disorders. For more information and to schedule an appointment, visit or call 832.556.6535.