Incidence and risk factors for stroke in pregnancy and the puerperium

Obstet Gynecol. 2005 Sep;106(3):509-16. doi: 10.1097/01.AOG.0000172428.78411.b0.


Objective: To estimate the incidence, mortality, and risk factors for pregnancy-related stroke in the United States.

Methods: The Nationwide Inpatient Sample from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, for the years 2000-2001 was queried for International Classification of Diseases, 9th Revision, codes for stroke among all pregnancy-related discharges.

Results: A total of 2,850 pregnancy-related discharges included a diagnosis of stroke for a rate of 34.2 per 100,000 deliveries. There were 117 deaths or 1.4 per 100,000 deliveries. Twenty-two percent of survivors were discharged to another facility. The risk of stroke increased with age, particularly ages 35 years and older. African-American women were at a higher risk, odds ratio (OR) 1.5 (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.2-1.9). Medical conditions that were strongly associated with stroke included migraine headache, OR 16.9 (CI 9.7-29.5), thrombophilia, OR 16.0 (CI 9.4-27.2), systemic lupus erythematosus, OR 15.2 (CI 7.4-31.2), heart disease, OR 13.2 (CI 10.2-17.0), sickle cell disease, OR 9.1 (CI 3.7-22.2), hypertension, OR 6.1(CI 4.5-8.1) and thrombocytopenia, OR 6.0 (CI 1.5-24.1). Complications of pregnancy that were significant risk factors were postpartum hemorrhage, OR 1.8 (CI 1.2-2.8), preeclampsia and gestational hypertension, OR 4.4 (CI 3.6-5.4), transfusion OR 10.3 (CI 7.1-15.1) and postpartum infection, OR 25.0 (CI 18.3-34.0).

Conclusion: The incidence, mortality and disability from pregnancy related-stroke are higher than previously reported. African-American women are at an increased risk, as are women aged 35 years and older. Risk factors, not previously reported, include lupus, blood transfusion, and migraine headaches. Specific strategies, not currently employed, may be required to reduce the devastation caused by stroke during pregnancy and the puerperium.

Level of evidence: II-2.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Odds Ratio
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Cardiovascular / epidemiology*
  • Pregnancy Complications, Cardiovascular / ethnology
  • Puerperal Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Puerperal Disorders / ethnology
  • Risk Factors
  • Stroke / epidemiology*
  • Stroke / ethnology
  • United States / epidemiology