In her role as an Obstetric Medicine Physician at BC Women’s Hospital + Health Centre, Dr. Chan is often called upon to manage pregnant or postpartum women with symptoms of stroke. Her team noticed that the frequency with which they encountered these women appeared to be increasing, which led Dr. Chan to suggest a study to identify presentation and associated risk factors of stroke in Canadian Women.
In collaboration with investigators from the Canadian Perinatal Surveillance System, Drs. Chan and Joseph evaluated how pre-existing conditions (such as maternal age, obesity, hypertension, diabetes, connective tissue diseases, congenital heart disease, etc.) as well as some of the conditions which develop during pregnancy (like preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, sepsis, or severe postpartum hemorrhage) are associated with the risk of stroke and cerebrovascular events in pregnancy.
The study reported that the overall rate of pregnancy-associated stroke and cerebrovascular events during the period of 2003-2016 in Canada was rising, with the current risk of stroke sitting at approximately 13 cases per 100 000 deliveries. The majority of these occurred postpartum, and were hemorrhagic strokes.
Although the annual rate is lower than those reported in the US (where approximately 22-27 cases are identified per 100 000 births) much can still be done to reduce this risk further in Canada with a better understanding of maternal risk factors for stroke.
Knowing that the presence of preeclampsia confers the greatest risk of stroke during pregnancy and especially postpartum should prompt clinicians to promptly diagnose and manage these patients when symptoms develop, especially after the patient has delivered.
To read the article in Stroke, click here.
To learn more about Dr. Chan, click here.