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Stroke risk in pregnant women 2.4 times higher
Date:7/8/2011

MAYWOOD, Ill. -- High blood pressure during pregnancy is a leading cause of maternal and fetal mortality worldwide.

Pregnant women face a risk of stroke that is 2.4 times higher than the risk in non-pregnant women, according to a medical journal article by Loyola University Health System researchers.

The review article on pregnancy-induced high-blood-pressure syndromes is published in the journal Women's Health.

"Prompt diagnosis and identification of patients at risk allows for early therapeutic interventions and improved clinical outcomes," the Loyola authors wrote.

Pregnancy-induced high-blood-pressure syndromes include pre-eclampsia, eclampsia and a rare but serious illness called HELLP (hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes and low platelet count).

Pre-eclampsia is a multi-system disorder characterized by high blood pressure (top or bottom numbers equal to or greater than 140/90, when measured on two occasions six hours apart) and proteinuria (excess protein in urine -- more than 300 mg. in 24 hours).

Left untreated, pre-eclampsia can cause serious complications, possibly fatal, in the mother and baby. In severe pre-eclampsia, patients may develop oliguria (reduced urine output), pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs), liver dysfunction, thrombocytopenia (low platelet count) and changes in mental status and other cerebral symptoms. Patients may have headaches, stupor, visual blurring, blindness (often temporary) or seizures.

Pre-eclampsia can progress to eclampsia or HELLP. Pre-eclampsia develops into eclampsia when a patient experiences convulsive seizures or goes into a coma. HELP can cause bleeding, liver problems and high-blood-pressure problems, harming both mother and baby.

"Pre-eclampsia/eclampsia-related events are a major cause of maternal disability and maternal and fetal death in the USA, and without prompt and aggressive treatment these patients may rapidly decline," the Loyola authors wrote. All four ar
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Contact: Jim Ritter
jritter@lumc.edu
708-216-2445
Loyola University Health System
Source:Eurekalert

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