Washington: Women are less likely to be diagnosed with minor strokes than men when they show up in emergency rooms, claims a new study.

“Men were more likely to be diagnosed with transient ischemic attack (TIA) or minor stroke, and women were 10% more likely to be given a non-stroke diagnosis, for example, migraine or vertigo, even though men and women were equally likely to report atypical stroke symptoms,” said Dr Amy Yu, lead author of the study.

According to the study published in the Journal of JAMA Neurology, men and women equally described atypical stroke symptoms such as dizziness, tingling or confusion which are not commonly thought of as related to stroke. Typical symptoms of a stroke are sudden weakness, face drooping, or speech difficulties.

A TIA occurs when there is a temporary interruption of blood flow to the brain and is often a warning sign of another stroke. TIAs can also be associated with a permanent disability.
“Our study also found the chance of having another stroke or heart attack within 90 days of the diagnosis was the same for women and men,” added senior author Dr Shelagh Coutts.

Researchers say while further study is needed, it is possible that patient reporting of symptoms, interpretation of symptoms by clinicians, or a combination of both, could explain the discrepancy in diagnosis among men and women.

“What’s important to recognize in stroke is that the brain has so many different functions and when a stroke is happening, people can feel different things beyond the typical stroke symptoms. Accurately diagnosing TIA and stroke would change a patient’s treatment plan and could help prevent another stroke from happening,” concluded Yu.