Blood pressure changes are relatively common during pregnancy, and many expectant mothers either have slightly low blood pressure, or a slightly elevated blood pressure. Pregnancy hypertension has always been something that prenatal care providers watch out for, among other reasons because it can be an indicated of the life-threatening condition preeclampsia. Now, a new study links high blood pressure in pregnancy to an increased risk of suffering a stroke, within several years of the pregnancy.
Doctors have known about risks of high blood pressure in pregnancy for a long time, and the American Heart Association says that one in 300 women in the 20 to 39 year old age group have a stroke each year. Researchers at the China Medical University in Taiwan looked at women who suffered from gestational hypertension, which is high blood pressure after the 20th week of pregnancy, and women who developed preeclampsia. They discovered a significant rise in the risk of suffering a stroke in these cases, and especially if the baby was born prematurely. What exactly did the Taiwanese study show? The researchers looked at around 5800 Taiwanese women, of which 1000 suffered from high blood pressure during their pregnancy.
In the hypertensive group, 21 women had a stroke within six years of giving birth. Meanwhile, 40 of the remaining 4800 women, those with normal pregnancy blood pressure, ended up with a stroke in the same period of time. Doctors from all over the globe, commenting on the new study, acknowledged that women who suffer from hypertension during pregnancy are at risk but they added they had no solution to the problem so far. Some criticized the new Taiwanese study, saying not many women have a stroke at such a young age, and it would be better to study the risk of a stroke in post-menopausal women.