Obesity and Lack of Physical Activity Linked to Pregnancy-Related Strokes

Health complications like high blood pressure and obesity have been linked to a rise in pregnancy-related strokes

Photo Sasabune Omakase Modified: Flickr/erin/CC 4.0

The rate of strokes in pregnant women, particularly with hypertension, is on the rise. 

Despite the overall decline in the rate of strokes in Americans age 65 and older, the likelihood of strokes is on the rise for pregnant women, according to a new study from the journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

A multi-year study that looked at nearly 82 million (81,983,216 to be exact) pregnancy hospitalizations between 1994 and 2011 found that “the nationwide rate of stroke with hypertensive disorders of pregnancy increased from 0.8 to 1.6 per 10,000 pregnancy hospitalizations (103 percent), whereas the rate without these disorders increased from 2.2 to 3.2 per 10,000 pregnancy hospitalizations (47 percent).”

Approximately a third of those strokes occurred in women with hypertension (high blood pressure), but a full two-thirds of strokes occurred in women who did not have hypertension.

Experts suggest that a lack of proper diet and exercise are making women more susceptible to strokes during pregnancy, which are “deadly and increasing,” the paper’s lead researcher told The New York Times.

“The unmeasurable factors that the study couldn’t address, like obesity and lack of physical activity, may also be playing a role,” Dr. Ralph Sacco, chairman of neurology at the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine who was not involved in the research, told The New York Times

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