Among the many potential risks that even healthy women have during pregnancy is the possibility of suffering a stroke. Some 20% of women who suffer a stroke before they’re 35 are pregnant.
The overall risk of having a stroke during your pregnancy, delivery or soon after is relatively rare. However, it’s something that women and their doctors must take seriously.
What increases the risk of a stroke?
There are underlying causes of strokes in pregnant women. These include:
- Blood clots
- Elevated blood pressure
- Pre-existing heart conditions
- Genetic conditions
With proper medical care, conditions like high blood pressure can be treated so the risk of stroke is minimized.
When are women most likely to suffer a stroke?
The risk of stroke is greatest in the days leading up to the birth and the weeks following it. Some women are at increased risk for even longer after delivery.
Pregnant and postpartum women can suffer an ischemic stroke, which is caused by a blocked blood vessel in the brain or a hemorrhagic stroke, which is caused by increased pressure on the heart and arteries resulting from pregnancy. The latter is more often fatal.
Taking the risk of stroke seriously
It’s crucial for expectant and new mothers to regularly monitor their blood pressure, whether they have a history of high blood pressure or not. If an expectant mother’s blood pressure is elevated, that shouldn’t be minimized or left untreated by her doctor.
It’s also important for expectant mothers and their families to learn the warning signs of a stroke and to seek medical treatment immediately if you’re concerned you may be suffering a stroke – particularly if you’ve been battling elevated blood pressure.
Strokes present in very different ways, much as heart attacks do – particularly in women. That’s why it’s necessary for doctors to recognize the signs of a stroke in a pregnant woman or new mom. Unfortunately, doctors sometimes write off symptoms if they don’t conform to their expectations of what a stroke looks like or they don’t take their patient’s reported symptoms seriously.
If you or a loved one has suffered harm or worse because the risk factors for a stroke weren’t properly treated or a doctor failed to diagnose a stroke, it’s a good idea to seek legal guidance to determine whether or not you may have cause for a medical malpractice claim or other legal action.