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Pregnant Women and New Moms at Greater Risk for Stroke, Study Shows

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More reason than ever for moms and moms-to-be to take care of themselves – a new study shows the risk of stroke for women who are pregnant or who have just given birth is higher than ever.

According to researchers, the number of hospitalizations for pregnancy-related stroke, which includes pregnant women and those who had given birth within 3 months, have gone up by 54 percent, from 4,085 in 1994-1995 to 6,293 in 2006-2007. The study also found that women aged 25 to 34 made up the greatest portion of the hospitalisations.

The reason for this increase, the study’s lead author Dr. Elena Kuklina explained, is that more and more women are already at risk for stroke when they become pregnant due to pre-existing conditions.

“Now more and more women entering pregnancy already have some type of risk factor for stroke, such as obesity, chronic hypertension, diabetes or congenital heart disease,” she said. “Since pregnancy by itself is a risk factor, if you have one of these other stroke risk factors, it doubles the risk.”

No reasons were found as to why one particular age group had higher instances of hospitalizations due to stroke than others.

It can be difficult for healthcare providers to treat pregnant women who are considered high risk for stroke because pregnant women are typically excluded from clinical trials on the grounds that medications may harm the baby.

One of the best things that can be done is to get control of pre-existing conditions and improve overall health with diet and exercise before becoming pregnant. If you are thinking of becoming pregnant and are worried about being at risk for stroke, talk to your doctor about your options.

You can read the full study on pregnancy and stroke risk in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association.

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