Complications of Pregnancy Can Increase Stroke Risk


Medical Video: A pregnancy complication that may predict heart disease in women

Many women experience complications during pregnancy. The two most common complications of high blood sugar (gestational diabetes) and high blood pressure (preeclampsia) have been shown to be indicators of an increased risk of stroke.

Increased blood sugar (gestational diabetes)

Gestational diabetes is the body's inability to process carbohydrates during pregnancy. Often there are no symptoms of this condition. All pregnant women are recommended to undergo tests to detect gestational diabetes during their pregnancy.

Symptoms that appear are usually mild and not life-threatening for pregnant women. However, increased blood sugar levels in the mother are associated with increased complications in infants, including:

  • Large size at birth
  • Birth trauma, especially on the shoulder
  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
  • Jaundice

Risk factors for gestational diabetes are:

  • Older age when pregnant
  • African or Hispanic
  • Obesity
  • Gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy
  • Having a previous baby weighing more than 4 kg

In many cases, blood glucose levels will return to pre-pregnancy levels after the mother gives birth. However, 40% of women who have had gestational diabetes will develop diabetes within 5-10 years after giving birth. This risk can be increased in obese women.

Increased blood pressure (preeclampsia)

Preeclampsia is a development of a condition of high blood pressure around the middle of pregnancy. Symptoms include swelling of the face and hands. The exact cause of preeclampsia is unknown. Preeclampsia occurs in about 8% of all pregnancies.

People who are more at risk for preeclampsia are those who have the following conditions:

  • First pregnancy
  • The age at pregnancy is not too young
  • African descent
  • Twin pregnancy
  • History of diabetes, high blood pressure, or kidney disease

At present, the only way to cure preeclampsia is to give birth to a baby. If it is too early to give birth to a baby, this condition can be managed in the following ways:

  • Enough rest
  • Close monitoring
  • Perform the birth process when the fetus is able to survive outside the womb

There is a 33% chance that preeclampsia will recur in the next pregnancy.

What are the long-term effects on women who have had preeclampsia or gestational diabetes?

The latest results from two studies show that the effects of pregnancy complications can extend until after childbirth. The researchers looked at the medical record and found that women who had preeclampsia and gestational diabetes during pregnancy would have twice or more chances of having a stroke, up to 13.5 years after pregnancy.

Other researchers also concluded the same results. They found that women with preeclampsia were 60% more likely to experience strokes in the following months and years after their pregnancy.

Although these results need to be confirmed by additional studies, it is important to carry out routine checks before pregnancy to identify preeclampsia and gestational diabetes, as well as other problems. The results of the study also indicate the need to identify ways to prevent this problem, so that secondary consequences such as stroke in the future can be avoided.

How do you reduce the risk of pregnancy complications?

It is important for all pregnant women to get initial and ongoing care before the pregnancy. This allows for early detection and treatment as well as knowing the conditions associated with other pregnancies. As with other conditions or diseases, several risk factors can be controlled, or treated, which means you can take action to reduce that risk. But of course, there are also other factors that are beyond your control.

The risk of this complication can be reduced through:

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Eat balanced foods that make blood sugar levels normal
  • Exercise regularly
Complications of Pregnancy Can Increase Stroke Risk
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