Stroke: Did you know stroke is a major health risk for women?

I was able to interview Sherry Torkos on the concerns regarding stoke and women and what you can do if you are at risk.

Sherry Torkos is a pharmacist, author, certified fitness instructor and health enthusiast who enjoys sharing her passion with others. Sherry graduated with honors from the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science in 1992. Since that time she has been practicing holistic pharmacy in the Niagara region of Ontario. Her philosophy of practice is to integrate conventional and complementary therapies to optimize health and prevent disease. Sherry has won several national pharmacy awards for providing excellence in patient care. As a leading health expert, she has delivered hundreds of lectures to medical professionals and the public. Sherry is frequently interviewed on radio and TV talk shows throughout North America and abroad on health matters. Sherry has authored 16 books and booklets, including Saving Women’s Hearts, The Canadian Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, and The Glycemic Index Made Simple.

Lisa Nelson RD #1: Why should women learn more about their risk for stroke?

Sherry Torkos: Stroke is a major health threat for women. Approximately 425,000 women suffer from stroke each year, 55,000 more than men. Awareness of stroke among women is low. Only 27% of women could name more than two of the six primary stroke symptoms. African-American women suffer a significantly higher number of strokes than Caucasian women, yet African American women are less likely to correctly identify what causes a stroke compared to Caucasian women.

While women fear breast cancer the most, women are twice as likely to die from stroke as from breast cancer.

Lisa Nelson RD #2: Who is most at risk for having a stroke?

Sherry Torkos: Stroke is most common among those over age 55 however it can also occur in younger people. Having a family history (parent or grandparent) or having a prior stroke or TIA (transient ischemic attack) or being African-Americans increases the risk. Although stroke is more common in men than women, women are more likely to die from stroke.

Other risk factors include having high blood pressure, cholesterol, or diabetes, smoking, being physically inactive, obesity, and eating a poor diet.+-

Certain stroke risk factors are unique for women, including: taking birth control pills, pregnancy, using hormone replacement therapy, having a thick waist and high triglyceride (blood fat) level and being a migraine headache sufferer.

Lisa Nelson RD #3: Symptoms of a heart attack in many cases differ between men and women. Is this also true for stroke symptoms?

Sherry Torkos: Yes, there are some symptoms of stroke that are unique for women including: sudden face and limb pain, sudden hiccups, sudden nausea, sudden chest pain, and sudden shortness of breath.

Lisa Nelson RD #4: What steps can be taken to reduce stroke?

Sherry Torkos:

Yes, here are a few steps you can take to reduce stroke risk.

  • Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy body weight.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Limit sodium intake, particularly if you have high blood pressure, to no more than 1500 mg per day.
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables. They are loaded with valuable antioxidants that can help protect against stroke. Berries and citrus fruit are particularly good.
  • Add Malaysian palm fruit oil to your diet. Palm fruit oil contains a potent form of vitamin E called tocotrienols that support the health of the brain, blood vessels and nerve cells. NIH funded studies have found that the tocotrienols in palm oil can reduce the amount of damage to the brain after stroke and accelerate recovery. Palm fruit oil can be found in health food stores such as Whole Foods and in specialty grocery stores. It is also added to a variety of foods such as Smart Balance peanut butter, Nutella and some brands of cookies.
  • Choose healthy indulgences. Studies have found that the antioxidant flavonoids in dark chocolate are protective against stroke. Coffee is also okay in moderation. Regular coffee consumption has been linked to lower stroke risk in a number of studies.

Be sure to access the free ecourse “7 Natural Ways to Lower Blood Pressure” at

All the best,
Lisa Nelson RD

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