Written for Uterus1 by Michelle Alford
It’s well documented that pregnant women have an increased risk of stroke. One study shows that, while pregnant, a woman's risk of stroke is 2.4 times higher. Other evidence suggests that during the first six weeks that risk may increase as much as 9 times.
Lower Your Stroke Risk
Do 30 minutes of moderate exercise every day.
Decrease your salt intake and eat more fruits and vegetables.
Watch your weight. You shouldn't gain more than 40 pounds while pregnant with a single child.
More recent research indicates that the prevalence of strokes among pregnant women is increasing. A study published in Stroke last month shows that between 1994 and 2006, there was a 47% increase in the number of women suffering from strokes while pregnant.
The increase may be due to women becoming pregnant while also suffering from other conditions that increase their stroke risk. This time period also saw an increase in women suffering from obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.
"Since pregnancy by itself is a risk factor, if you have one of these other stroke risk factors, it doubles the risk," explains Dr Elena Kuklina, the study’s lead author and epidemiologist at the CDC's Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention.
Another contributing factor could be that women are having children later in life. The risk of stroke increases as women age, and older women are more likely to have other underlying conditions that increase their risk factor.
More research needs to be done into the increased risk of stroke in pregnant women and what preventative measures can be taken. Because of the risk of harming the unborn baby, pregnant women are rarely included in clinical trials. As a result, little is known about which drugs can be safely prescribed to women with an increased risk of stroke.
“Stroke is such a debilitating condition,” adds Dr. Kuklina. “We need to put more effort into prevention.”
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