Friday, February 7, 2014

New stroke prevention guidelines are just for women

CoxHealth expert says women’s risk factors differ from those in men
Stroke kills twice as many women each year as breast cancer, yet most women are unaware of the risks. In a step to raise awareness and highlight stroke risks unique to women, the American Heart Association has issued new guidelines for the prevention of stroke in this group.
“Factors such as diabetes and high blood pressure during pregnancy can increase a woman’s stroke risk,” said Debra Mergen, CoxHealth Stroke Center coordinator. 
       According to the AHA, the following risk factors are more common in women than in men, or indicate a higher stroke risk:
· high blood pressure
· migraine with aura
· atrial fibrillation (an abnormal heartbeat)
· diabetes
· depression
· emotional stress.
To help manage stroke risk in women, the AHA recommends that pregnant women with chronic high blood pressure or previous pregnancy-associated high blood pressure receive risk-lowering therapy during pregnancy. The recommendations also include screening women for high blood pressure before prescribing birth control pills, and strongly recommend that women who have migraines with auras stop smoking. 
 Mergen says the new guidelines offer valuable information for women of all ages. “It is important to improve stroke awareness in younger women to reduce their risk of future stroke,” she said.
The CoxHealth Stroke Center is the only stroke program in Springfield to receive the American Heart Association Get With The Guidelines – Stroke Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award, and CoxHealth is the only health system in the Ozarks to be named to the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Target: Stroke Honor Roll. CoxHealth was among the first hospitals in the U.S. to earn The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval for certification as a Primary Stroke Center.
For more information about stroke diagnosis, treatment and prevention, and patient stories visit