The gender gap in stroke: a meta-analysis

Acta Neurol Scand. 2012 Feb;125(2):83-90. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0404.2011.01514.x. Epub 2011 Jun 8.


Several studies have indicated that gender differences might exist in stroke.

Objectives and methods: Our goal was to perform a comprehensive meta-analysis in order to evaluate and quantify stroke gender disparities through a systematic search of relevant articles published up to October 2009 and addressing gender related differences in ischemic stroke risk factors, stroke subtype and severity, diagnostic tests, and acute phase and secondary prevention treatments.

Results: Forty-five articles were included in the analysis, representing a total of 673,935 patients. Women were globally older than men (+5.2 years) and suffered more hypertension (P = 0.017) and atrial fibrillation (P < 0.001), although they were less likely to drink alcohol (P < 0.001), smoke cigarettes (P < 0.001), present hyperlipidemia (P = 0.033) or diabetes (P = 0.003) than men. Baseline stroke severity was not different between genders. Women suffered more cardioembolic strokes, while men had more atherothrombotic strokes. Moreover, women were less likely to receive stroke-related treatments, such as antiplatelets (P < 0.001), statins (P < 0.001), and tPA (P < 0.001) than men. Although meta-regression did not identify age or stroke etiology as sources of heterogeneity, caution should be taken as that analysis was possible only for gender differences in secondary prevention with antiplatelets because of limited data for other end points.

Conclusions: Gender differences have been identified on the risk factors profile and diagnostic and therapeutic management of patients with ischemic stroke. Active measures should thus be taken to avoid bias in clinical practice.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects
  • Atrial Fibrillation / etiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperlipidemias / complications
  • Hypertension / etiology
  • Male
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors*
  • Smoke / adverse effects
  • Stroke / classification
  • Stroke / complications
  • Stroke / etiology*


  • Smoke