Gender and stroke symptoms: a review of the current literature

J Neurosci Nurs. 2010 Apr;42(2):80-7.


Ischemic stroke accounts for 87% of the 780,000 strokes occurring annually in the United States and is a leading cause of death and functional limitations worldwide. The prompt recognition of stroke symptoms and timely arrival at the emergency room are important to stroke outcomes. Recent literature was suggestive that women may have different stroke symptoms compared with men. If women have nontraditional symptoms at stroke onset, this may contribute to delay in diagnosis and treatment. The purpose of this manuscript was to review the current literature regarding gender differences in stroke symptoms. Ten articles met the inclusion criteria for the review. Overall, the extant research was not indicative of robust gender differences in the classic symptoms of stroke or a greater frequency of nontraditional symptoms in women. One study found that women were significantly more likely than men to report nonspecific "somatic" symptoms, and in another study women were significantly more likely to have a change in mental status compared with men. Implications for nursing practice and suggestions for future research are discussed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age Distribution
  • Brain Ischemia / complications
  • Female
  • Fibrinolytic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Men / psychology
  • Nurse's Role
  • Nursing Assessment
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / psychology
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / statistics & numerical data
  • Research Design
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Sex Factors
  • Stroke / complications*
  • Stroke / diagnosis*
  • Stroke / epidemiology
  • Stroke / therapy
  • Time Factors
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Women / psychology


  • Fibrinolytic Agents