Men may be more likely to die or develop serious complications from a stroke than women.

A new study shows that despite the fact that men tend to have strokes at an earlier age than women, they face an 8 percent higher risk of death and 90 percent higher risk of developing pneumonia as a complication of a stroke.

Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the U.S.; each year more than 700,000 people suffer a stroke.

Researchers say the results suggest that although men tend to have strokes at a younger age, they may be more vulnerable after a stroke.

Risks After a Stroke

In the study, researchers analyzed more than 56,000 stroke cases treated at 166 community hospitals across the U.S.

The results show that women accounted for 56 percent of the strokes treated and were much older than men -- 73 years old vs. 67 years old.

Despite their younger age, researchers found that men were 8 percent more likely to die and 90 percent more likely to develop pneumonia than women. But if they survived the stroke, the study shows that men were more likely to be discharged and sent home from the hospital than women.

The results of the study were presented this week at an American Heart Disease conference in Washington, D.C.

The study also shows that there were no significant differences between men and women in the long-term treatment of stroke using blood-thinning drugs, aspirin, or antiplatelet drugs. But women were less likely to receive immediate clot-busting thrombolytic therapy than men.

By Jennifer Warner, reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

SOURCES: American Heart Association 7th Scientific Forum on Quality of Care and Outcomes Research in Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke, Washington, D.C., May 7-9, 2006. News release, American Heart Association.