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 Dr. George Jacob
Heart Infocenter

Holistic-online.com

Stroke

Risk Factors for Stroke

Special Risks of Stroke Faced By Women

Some risk factors for stroke apply only to women. Primary among these are:

  • Use of Oral Contraceptives

  • Pregnancy

  • Childbirth

  • Menopause

These risk factors are tied to hormonal fluctuations and changes that affect a woman in different stages of life.

Research in the past few decades has shown that old fashioned high-dose oral contraceptives can increase the risk of stroke in women. The newer oral contraceptives have lower doses of estrogen. Some studies have shown the newer low-dose oral contraceptives may not significantly increase the risk of stroke in women.

Other studies have demonstrated that pregnancy and childbirth can put a woman at an increased risk for stroke. Pregnancy increases the risk of stroke as much as three to 13 times. Of course, the risk of stroke in young women of childbearing years is very small to begin with, so a moderate increase in risk during pregnancy is still a relatively small risk. Pregnancy and childbirth cause strokes in approximately eight in 100,000 women.

Unfortunately, 25 percent of strokes during pregnancy end in death, and hemorrhagic strokes, although rare, are still the leading cause of maternal death in the United States. Subarachnoid hemorrhage, in particular, causes one to five maternal deaths per 10,000 pregnancies.

A clinical study showed that the risk of stroke during pregnancy is greatest in the post-partum period - the 6 weeks following childbirth. The risk of ischemic stroke after pregnancy is about nine times higher and the risk of hemorrhagic stroke is more than 28 times higher for post-partum women than for women who are not pregnant or post-partum. The cause is unknown.

Hormonal changes at the end of the childbearing years can increase the risk of stroke. Several studies have shown that menopause can increase a woman's risk of stroke. Fortunately, some studies have suggested that hormone replacement therapy can reduce some of the effects of menopause and decrease stroke risk.

To learn more about menopause and hormone replacement therapy, please visit Holisticonline.com Menopause Infocenter

Source: National Institutes of Health

Caution: If you suspect a stroke, seek emergency medical treatment immediately. Time is of essence.

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