Neurologist Supports New Stroke Guidelines for Women
ALBANY, N.Y., Feb., 21, 2014 — Albany Medical Center’s leading stroke expert today praised new American Heart Association/American Stroke Association (AHA/ASA) guidelines issued that outline unique risks women face for stroke, including those influenced by pregnancy, child birth, birth control and hormones.
Previous AHA/ASA stroke guidelines outlined risks that applied to both genders but did not identify risk factors inherent in just women.
“While men and women share many risk factors for stroke, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking, we now have available scientifically based recommendations that are clearly unique to women,” said Gary Bernardini, M.D., Ph.D., professor of neurology and neurosurgery and director of Stroke and Neurocritical Care at Albany Med. “These are important findings that will help us tailor our approach to preventing stroke in women.”
The gender-specific stroke risks and treatments include:
• Pregnant women with preeclampsia, a dangerous spike in blood pressure during pregnancy that doubles the risk of stroke and quadruples the risk of high blood pressure later in life;
• Pregnant women with moderately high blood pressure may be considered for blood pressure medication, and those with severe high blood pressure should receive treatment;
• Women planning to take contraceptives should be screened for high blood pressure; and
• Women who smoke and have migraines with aura — which may include sensitivity to light, blind spots, or tingling in the hands or face during or before a migraine — should stop smoking to avoid elevated risk of stroke.
Stroke risk factors such as high blood pressure, migraine with aura, atrial fibrillation, diabetes, depression and emotional stress tend to be stronger or more common in women than in men.
“Stroke is the third-leading cause of death in women,” Dr. Bernardini said. “Hopefully these guidelines can serve as discussion points between women and their physicians to address these important risk factors for stroke.”
As the Capital Region’s leader in stroke care, Albany Medical Center is the only hospital in the region, and one of only 13 statewide, to be certified by both the New York State Department of Health as a Stroke Center and by the Joint Commission as a Primary Stroke Center with the organization’s Gold Seal of Approval.
Learn more on our Hypertension section.
Albany Medical Center, northeastern New York’s only academic health sciences center, is one of the largest private employers in the Capital Region. It incorporates the 734-bed Albany Medical Center Hospital, which offers the widest range of medical and surgical services in the region, and the Albany Medical College, which trains the next generation of doctors, scientists and other healthcare professionals, and also includes a biomedical research enterprise and the region’s largest physicians practice with more than 400 doctors. Albany Medical Center works with dozens of community partners to improve the region’s health and quality of life. For more information: www.amc.edu or www.facebook.com/albanymedicalcenter.
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