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Pregnancy-Related Strokes Jump 54 Percent
Date:7/28/2011

delivery.

Nearly one-third of the women who had a stroke during pregnancy, and more than half who had a stroke during the postpartum period, had high blood pressure or a history of heart disease, the study found.

Women between the ages of 25 and 34 were hospitalized for stroke more often than younger or older women.

Kuklina said that all women should try to be as healthy as possible before they get pregnant, and "try to stick to a healthy lifestyle during pregnancy." She recommended healthful eating, regular physical activity and not smoking.

She also advised women who have a chronic condition to make sure it is as well-controlled as it can be prior to conception. In some cases, she said, doctors might recommend blood-thinning medication to help prevent stroke.

Dr. Mary Rosser, an obstetrician at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, said she was happy to see a study drawing attention to this issue.

"This is a very telling article that will raise awareness. Women might brush off some of the symptoms [of stroke], and just think they're exhausted because they're pregnant or just had a baby," she said.

Some of the symptoms that signal a need for immediate medical attention, Rosser said, include:

  • Sudden confusion, or trouble speaking or understanding others
  • Sudden weakness or numbness in the face, arms or legs, especially if this occurs only on one side
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Trouble walking or coordinating movements
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause

Rosser said some of the signs that a woman may be developing dangerously high blood pressure during pregnancy include:

  • Headache
  • Swelling in the face or hands
  • Visual changes
  • Pain in the upper right abdomen

These symptoms are of more concern when one or more occur at the same time, she said. She tells her patients to take acetami
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