Women with history of stillbirths face stroke threat

stroke, stillbirths, miscarriages, stroke risk

Women who have experienced stillbirths have a 31 per cent increased risk of suffering non-fatal stroke.

Photo credit: SHUTTERSTOCK

What you need to know:

  •  The risk of suffering fatal stroke is 26 per cent more among women who have had recurrent stillbirths.
  • Women who have had miscarriages are also more likely to die from stroke compared to the general population.

Women who suffer a miscarriage or stillbirth are at higher risk of getting stroke later on in life, scientists have warned. A stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures and bleeds or when there’s a blockage in the blood supply to the brain.

According to a new study conducted by researchers at the University of Queensland in Australia, women who have had miscarriages are also more likely to die from stroke compared to the general population.

Those who have had one miscarriage are at a higher risk by eight per cent, two miscarriages increase the risk by 26 per cent while three miscarriages raise the risk by 82 per cent. The findings published in the British Medical Journal further revealed that the risk of suffering non-fatal stroke is 35 per cent higher among women who have had three miscarriages and above.

Two miscarriages increased the risk of non-fatal stroke by 12 per cent while one miscarriage raised the risk by seven per cent.

The team included over 600,000 women aged between 32 and 73 years. They excluded women who had gotten stroke before the age of 40. Among the participants, 9,265 individuals aged 62, equivalent to 2.8 per cent, suffered a first non-fatal stroke while 4,003 aged 71, making up 0.7 per cent, got a fatal stroke.

The data illustrated that the risk of suffering fatal stroke is 26 per cent more among women who have had recurrent stillbirths.

Women who have experienced stillbirths have a 31 per cent increased risk of suffering non-fatal stroke and are seven per cent more likely to die from stroke. Those who were infertile were found to be more likely to get non-fatal stroke by 14 per cent compared to fertile women. 

“History of loss or death of a baby during or before birth and recurrent miscarriages can be considered a stroke risk factor that is female specific while risk differences vary according to stroke subtypes,” the experts explained. “This research can contribute to stroke prevention and improved monitoring for women with such kind of history.”

The experts who analysed global data attributed conditions such as premature ovarian insufficiency and polycystic ovary syndrome to the link between increased risk of stroke and infertility.

For women who have a history of recurrent miscarriages or stillbirths, the scientists linked heightened risk of stroke to narrowing of the heart’s blood vessels.

Statistical tools such as national patient registers, data from hospitals and self-reported questionnaires were deployed to identify the strokes while death registries were used to record fatal strokes.

While urging for more probe into the area, the experts observed  that unhealthy lifestyles are also a factor that raises the risk of stroke.

The research put into consideration other factors that could influence the findings such as women participants who are smokers as well as body mass index.

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