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ASA: Gender Differences Seen in Stroke Care and Awareness

Women less likely to receive clot-busting therapy, but may be more aware of stroke symptoms

THURSDAY, Feb. 19 (HealthDay News) -- Women may be less likely than men to receive tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) for stroke, but may be increasingly likely to be aware of acute stroke symptoms and quickly present at emergency departments, according to research presented during a "Women and Stroke" press conference at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference held Feb. 17 to 20 in San Diego.

Archit Bhatt, M.D., of Michigan State University in East Lansing, Mich., and colleagues conducted a meta-analysis of 17 studies, including 14 studies that provided data on over 2.5 million acute ischemic stroke cases and 22,696 cases that received tPA. The investigators found that women were significantly less likely than men to receive tPA (odds ratio, 0.68).

Other studies presented by researchers from Michigan, Connecticut and California suggested that women are becoming more aware of acute stroke symptoms, including non-traditional symptoms such as an altered mental state, and are reporting earlier to emergency departments; that older women have fewer recurrent strokes after an initial transient ischemic attack; and that the obesity-driven stroke surge among middle-aged women is accompanied by an increased 10-year risk of cardiac disease.

"The odds of intravenous tPA treatment in women are 32 percent lower than in men," Bhatt and colleagues conclude. "This sex disparity persisted among the subgroup of acute ischemic stroke patients who arrive early and are eligible for tPA treatment. Further studies are required to determine the origins of these differences and to determine strategies for reducing this sex disparity in acute stroke care."

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