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Study links pregnancy high blood pressure to postpartum strokes

A new study has found that women who have high blood pressure during pregnancy have an increased instance of strokes in the time period following the birth, according to a report from Reuters. The reported instance of strokes in these women was even higher when the birth was premature. While this study has added a great deal of data to researcher's understanding of this issue, it unfortunately may not provide a clear path to avoiding those strokes later on.

According to Dr. Baha Sibai, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine in Ohio, "We know these women are at risk, but no one really knows if there is anything to do about it." But increased awareness of the linkage may allow doctors to better identify women who are at an increased risk and ensure that these women are aware of the healthy lifestyle choices that can reduce the risk of strokes.

The researchers considered women who were experiencing gestational hypertension or preeclampsia. Preeclampsia affects about five percent of pregnant women in the United States. These conditions not only herald an increased likelihood of postpartum stroke but can also cause serious complications during the pregnancy. Preeclampsia can result in seizures or stroke during the pregnancy it can also result in a premature birth. Preeclampsia, when not successfully treated, can also lead to a another dangerous condition, eclampsia.

The study also uncovered an increased risk of stroke in the years following a premature birth even if the mother did not have unusually high blood pressure during the pregnancy.

Source: Reuters "Pregnancy high blood pressure tied to later stroke" Leigh Krietsch Boerner, February 2, 2011

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