In a very recently released research study of over 5 million women and 1000 hospitals, there are very important things you should know about pregnancy and strokes. For years, women’s health issues were assumed to be the same as men’s except for pregnancy, of course. Nevertheless, in the last 20 years, medical researchers have discovered that this is not true. Very few studies have been done concerning pregnant women and the issue of pregnancy related strokes has flown under the radar – until July 2011.

There is nothing natural about the body’s reaction to a foreign body within it. There are certain reactions that are expected, however. Your hormones go ballistic. Your moods change spontaneously. Your blood pressure rises and falls for no apparent reason. You ache from head to toe at any given moment.

Things You Should Know About Pregnancy and Strokes

Alarming Discoveries:

• Strokes related to pregnancy increased in last ten years

• Strokes related to pregnancy can show up years later

The original report is in Stroke: Journal of American Heart Association, which found that pregnancy related strokes that required hospitalization increased 54% in ten years. Dr. Elena V. Kuklina noted that pregnancy, on its own, is a risk factor for stroke.

Pregnancy needs to be treated with more concern by patients and doctors. Expectant mother’s stroke rate rose 47%, which is alarming. More concerning is that post-partum mother’s stroke rate rose 83%. The Bushnell study found women having a complicated pregnancy are at greater risk of stroke in the next 12 – 20 years.

The data shows that African American women are more likely to be candidates for two reasons- high blood pressure and/or sickle cell anemia tendencies. Women with diabetes are also in jeopardy. In both studies, migraines are thought to be an indicating factor.

Things You Should Know About Pregnancy and Strokes

What You Can Do To Prevent a Pregnancy Related Stroke

• Get Prenatal Care Early

• Discuss this issue with your doctor

With so little knowledge about how to treat risk factors for stroke during pregnancy, the responsibility to get prenatal care as early as possible is imperative. Prenatal care is intended to help keep both the mother and baby safe and healthy.

Discuss the issue of pregnancy related strokes with your doctor. Doctors have to read hundreds of journals and articles a week. Don’t assume that because you know about the rise in risk that your doctor will. If there is hypertension in your family, if there is a history of stroke or migraines or sickle cell anemia, discuss your potential for having a stroke during pregnancy.

Conclusion

The known causes of this sudden leap are limited. It is suspected that the rise correlates with the known risk factors for stroke in general – over age 35, cardiovascular disease, migraines, blood transfusions, and Lupus. Talk about this risk with your aunts, daughters, granddaughters and girlfriends. By word-of-mouth, we can let other women become aware of things they should know about pregnancy and strokes and push for further research.

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