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High rates of strokes for new and soon-to-be moms

New research indicates that in the last 12 years the rate of strokes among pregnant women and those who have just given birth has risen by more than 50 percent. Generally when woman give birth they are not in the older age group that most people commonly associate with strokes.

It is important that health care providers inform pregnant women and new mothers of the risk of strokes and the signs to watch for. Early diagnosis of a stroke is important to mitigate the damage caused to the brain.

A recent article from MSNBC shares the story of one mother who had a stroke one week after her baby was born. At first it never occurred to her that the headache and other symptoms were related to a stroke. Once the doctors identified the incident as stroke she was put in a medically induced coma for several weeks. After she came out of the coma she had to relearn to speak and walk. She still does not have the use of her right hand, and must wear a brace on her right leg.

The increased risk of strokes during pregnancy is caused by a number of factors. The increased volume of blood during pregnancy and increased likelihood of high blood pressure increase the risk of stroke. Doctors also believe that in the several weeks after the birth changing hormone and blood pressure levels may make strokes more likely.

The researchers called on doctors and patients to engage in more preventive care and monitoring throughout the pregnancy process. The recent increase in the incidents of strokes is likely directly related to an increase in high blood pressure and heart disease. It is important that health care providers identify these issues as early as possible so that the risk of injury from a stroke can be mitigated to the greatest extent possible.

Source: MSNBC "Strokes spike in pregnant women, new moms" JoNel Aleccia, July 28, 2011

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