Sex differences in stroke co-morbidities
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Males and females possess distinct biological differences that manifest in diverse risk profiles for acute and chronic diseases. A well-documented example of this is ischemic stroke. It has been demonstrated that older females have greater prevalence of, and worse outcome after, ischemic stroke than do males and younger females. Loss of estrogen after menopause is heavily implicated as a contributing factor for this phenomenon; however, there is mounting evidence to suggest that certain risk factors tend to occur more often in older females, such as hypertension and atrial fibrillation, while others more adversely affect females than they do males, such as diabetes and smoking. Sex-specific risk factors, such as oral contraceptive use and menopause, could also contribute to the discrepancy in stroke prevalence and outcome. Additionally, there is evidence to suggest that females tend to present with more nontraditional symptoms of acute stroke than do males, making it more difficult for clinicians to correctly identify the occurrence of a stroke, which may delay the administration of thrombolytic intervention. Finally, certain sociodemographic factors, such as the fact that females were more likely to live alone prior to stroke, may contribute to poorer recovery in females. This review will explore the various co-morbidities and sociodemographic factors that contribute to the greater prevalence of and poorer outcome after stroke in older females and will highlight the critical need for considering sex as a predisposing biological variable in stroke studies.
author list (cited authors)
Branyan, T. E., & Sohrabji, F.