Strokes among U.S. pregnant women and new mothers have escalated; this is probably because more of these women are obese and suffer from high blood pressure and heart disease. Hospitalizations for pregnancy-related strokes and mini strokes has increased 54%, from 1994 to 95 when it was around 4,100 women that were hospitalized to around 6,300 women that were hospitalized from 2006 to 2007. A neurologist at Columbia University and Harlem Hospital and who is also a spokesperson for the American Stroke Association, Olajide Williams said “That is a very, very alarm-raising statistic that we need to take extremely seriously,” and that “We need to be more aggressive in screening these women for these risk factors.” Even though the number of strokes is small when you compare it to the fact that almost 4 million babies are born every year in the United States. Pregnancy raises the risk of having a stroke because it is when all the hormones and blood changes start to happen. If a pregnant woman starts her pregnancy out being unhealthy with problems like diabetes or high blood pressure, she doubles her risk of having a stroke either during the pregnancy or right after she has the baby.
This study used records from different hospitals in virtually all of the states; it covered up to 8 million hospitalizations every year. The research focused on the number of women who had strokes, transient ischemic attacks (TIA’s), or mini strokes, when they were pregnant or in the three months following the birth of the baby. The study found that the rate of strokes, transient ischemic attacks (TIA’s), or mini strokes were the highest in the Southern U.S. and the rates were the lowest in the Northeastern part of the United States. One of the things that was looked at was the frequency of high blood pressure, heart disease and other health problems that are associated with obesity; it was found that this reason accounted for almost the entire 54% rise in pregnancy related strokes, the other factor that was found was that women are waiting longer to have kids and the older you are as a pregnant woman the higher at risk you are. Often pregnant women and new mom’s are more focused on the baby and the baby’s health and they forget to think about their own health. If you are trying to get pregnant you should go see your doctor and be evaluated for different ricks like that of a stroke and if you are already pregnant start your prenatal care as soon as possible and live a healthy life like a healthy diet, stop smoking if you smoke, keep a healthy weight and exercise. The key to preventing long term damage from a stroke are getting help fast, once the symptoms appear. The warning signs of a stroke are a rapid appearance of any of these factors: numbness or weakness on one side, a severe headache without a known cause, confusion, trouble walking, speaking or seeing.