Study Highlight:

  • The risk of pregnancy-related stroke is much higher among black women than among white women.

Embargoed until 4 a.m. CT/5 a.m. ET, Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2019

DALLAS, Jan. 30, 2019 — The risk of pregnancy-related stroke is much higher among black women than among white women, according to preliminary research to be presented in Honolulu at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2019, a world premier meeting for researchers and clinicians dedicated to the science and treatment of cerebrovascular disease.

Stroke is the fifth-leading cause of death and a major cause of long-term disability in the United States. Women are more likely than men to have a stroke and to die as a result, and pregnancy increases the risk. In addition, blacks are at greater risk than whites.

To find out if stroke risk differs by race during and after delivery researchers studied records from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample, a publicly available database of hospitalizations, from 1998 to 2014. These records comprised nearly 68 million delivery hospitalizations and 1.1 million post-delivery hospitalizations for women between 15- to 54-years-old.

Of the nearly 68 million delivery hospitalizations, 8,241 women were diagnosed with stroke during delivery. Of the 1.1 million hospitalizations after delivery, 11,073 women were readmitted for stroke. After studying the deliveries, they found:

  • Black women were at 64 percent higher risk for stroke during delivery and 66 percent higher risk for stroke during postpartum admissions than white women.
  • Black and Hispanic women with pregnancy-related high blood pressure, such as preeclampsia, were twice as likely as white women to have a stroke during delivery.
  • Postpartum stroke hospitalizations for Hispanic women did not differ from white women.

“Further research is needed to better understand if these high-risk groups would benefit from a more aggressive blood pressure control,” said Maria Daniela Zambrano, M.D., study lead author and fellow in vascular neurology at Columbia University in New York. “It is also important to carefully look at all of the modifiable risk factors that could help prevent stroke in these groups.”

Modifiable stroke risk factors include lifestyle changes, controlling high blood pressure, high cholesterol, weight, diabetes and healthy eating, smoking cessation and physically activity.

“We have to identify our obstetric patients at higher risk of cerebrovascular complications and develop an individualized prenatal care plan after considering all their predisposing factors including race,” Zambrano said.

The study used information from a national registry, which does not always record patients’ race and ethnicity.

Columbia University funded the study.

Co-authors are Alexander M. Friedman, M.D.; Amelia K. Boehme, Ph.D.; YongMei Huang, M.D., Ph.D.; and Eliza C. Miller, M.D.

Note: Scientific presentation is 6:30 p.m. HT/11:30 p.m. ET, Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2019.

Statements and conclusions of study authors that are presented at American Heart Association scientific meetings are solely those of the study authors and do not necessarily reflect association policy or position. The association makes no representation or warranty as to their accuracy or reliability. The association receives funding primarily from individuals; foundations and corporations (including pharmaceutical, device manufacturers and other companies) also make donations and fund specific association programs and events. The association has strict policies to prevent these relationships from influencing the science content. Revenues from pharmaceutical and device corporations are available at https://www.heart.org/en/about-us/aha-financial-information.

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About the American Stroke Association

The American Stroke Association is devoted to saving people from stroke — the No. 2 cause of death in the world and a leading cause of serious disability. We team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat stroke. The Dallas-based association officially launched in 1998 as a division of the American Heart Association. To learn more or to get involved, call 1-888-4STROKE or visit StrokeAssociation.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

For Media Inquiries and ASA Expert Perspective: 214-706-1173

Karen Astle: 214-706-1392; karen.astle@heart.org

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Feb. 6-8, 2019: AHA News Media Office at the

Honolulu Convention Center: 808-792-6530  

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