High blood pressure during pregnancy can markedly increase a woman's lifetime risk of stroke.
That's the primary finding of a new analysis of studies presented at a recent meeting of the Canadian Stroke Congress that urges better blood pressure monitoring of expectant mothers to avoid longer-term risks.
"We've found that women who had high blood pressure during pregnancy could be at higher risk of stroke, particularly if they had pre-eclampsia, which is a more severe form of high blood pressure," said lead researcher Aravind Ganesh, M.D., a neurology resident at the University of Calgary. "The elevated risk of stroke could be as high as 40 percent."
The findings are based on a new review of nine studies that specifically looked at hypertension during pregnancy and its relationship to future risk of stroke. The studies followed women for up to 32 years after a pregnancy, and found consistent evidence that those with a history of hypertension in pregnancy are more likely to experience stroke in later life.
"Hypertension is the most important risk factor for stroke," said Michael Hill, M.D., co-chair of the Canadian Stroke Congress. "Knowing your blood pressure may be one of the most important steps you can take to reducing stroke risk, something that is particularly true among women with a history of pregnancy-associated hypertension."
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