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Unique Stroke Symptoms in Women

A Review

Colsch, Renee; Lindseth, Glenda

Journal of Neuroscience Nursing: December 2018 - Volume 50 - Issue 6 - p 336–342
doi: 10.1097/JNN.0000000000000402
Literature Review

ABSTRACT Background: Research suggests that there is a delay in recognizing unique stroke symptoms in women by both healthcare professionals and the general population. The purpose of this review was to identify and summarize the most relevant literature regarding recognition and assessment of unique stroke symptoms in women. Methods: Literature review using PubMed, CINAHL, ERIC, MEDLINE, PsycINFO, and Google Scholar was used to search literature describing unique stroke symptoms. Results: Unique stroke symptoms, female sex, and race are associated with delayed recognition, treatment, misdiagnosis, and outcomes. Women experience unique symptoms of nausea/vomiting, headache, dizziness, and cognitive dysfunction more often than men. Stroke assessment tools and registries recognize 1 to 4 of the 11 unique stroke symptoms in women, no study directly assesses the sensitivity and specificity of these unique symptoms, and all studies included women and men. Conclusions and Nursing Implications: Current assessment tools and registries are not sensitive and specific to measuring unique stroke symptoms in women. Accurately identifying unique stroke symptoms in women may reduce presentation and treatment time, minimizing misdiagnoses and poor patient outcomes.

Glenda Lindseth, PhD RN FADA FAAN, is Professor, University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, ND.

Questions or comments about this article may be directed to Renee Colsch, MS RN, at She is a PhD Student, University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, ND, and an Assistant Professor, St. Catherine University, St. Paul, MN.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

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© 2018 American Association of Neuroscience Nurses