Background: Pregnancy is a known risk factor for stroke, but relatively few studies have been conducted in Asian populations to document the risk. This study aimed to analyze the incidence and etiologies of stroke occurring during pregnancy and puerperium in Taiwanese women.
Methods: From 1984 to 2002, female patients 15 through 40 years of age with first-ever stroke during pregnancy or within 6 weeks of delivery were recruited. Stroke was classified as ischemic stroke (IS), cerebral venous thrombosis (CVT), intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH), and subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH). The incidence, time of stroke onset (1st through 3rd trimester or puerperium), and etiologies of different stroke subtypes were analyzed.
Results: Of 402 young female stroke patients, 49 had stroke during pregnancy and puerperium, including 16 with IS, 11 with CVT, 19 with ICH and 3 with SAH. After excluding referral patients, the incidences of pregnancy-related stroke were 46.2 (95% CI 30.7-69.5) per 100,000 pregnancies. 67% developed stroke in the 3rd trimester and puerperium, and 73% of CVT occurred in the puerperium period. Etiologies were well defined in 78% of patients. Eclampsia (37%) and arteriovenous malformation (26%) were the most important etiologies of ICH. For IS and CVT, rheumatic heart disease (44%) and coagulopathy (64%) were the major etiologies respectively.
Conclusions: The incidence of stroke occurrence during pregnancy and puerperium in Taiwanese women is higher than that of Caucasian populations; the majority of strokes occurred in the 3rd trimester and puerperium, particularly CVT.