A study published in the American Heart Association (AHA) journal Stroke showed that women with preeclampsia run a higher risk of pregnancy-related stroke.
“Preeclampsia is a very complex disorder that’s not completely understood,” Dr. Eliza Miller, study lead author and New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center vascular neurology fellow, said in a release. “Our study sought to discover if there are other risk factors or clues that may help identify the women with preeclampsia who are at the highest risk for pregnancy-related stroke. We were looking for risk factors that could be prevented or treated.”
The study examined the records of 88,857 preeclampsia patients from 2003 through 2012 in New York State hospitals. It found that 197 of those patients had pregnancy-associated strokes. The women who suffered a stroke were seven times more likely to have severe preeclampsia or eclampsia than those who did not have a stroke. In addition, they were three times more likely to have an infection, particularly a urinary tract infection, preexisting high blood pressure or other clotting or bleeding issues.
More than one in 10 of the strokes were fatal. Most strokes occurred after the women were released from the hospital after delivering their babies.
“Preeclampsia is a very common disorder, and a lot of people are not aware of its association with stroke,” Miller said in the release. “Women with preeclampsia should take any neurological symptoms, such as severe headache, very seriously, especially during the postpartum period. This needs to be a major focus of future stroke research in women.”