Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Loyola doctor weighs in on first stroke prevention guidelines for women

MAYWOOD, Ill. (Feb. 11) – The first guidelines to be issued on stroke prevention in women are now available. These guidelines were developed by the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association to address the unique risk factors for stroke in women.

“Women are just as likely to have a stroke as men and while the traditional risk factors for stroke such as high blood pressure, smoking and high cholesterol apply to everyone, we now have identifiable risks that are clearly unique to women,” said Sara Sirna, MD, women’s heart specialist and professor of Medicine at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. “Identifying these issues and increasing their awareness is the first step to reduce the risk of stroke."

Stroke risk factors for women can be influenced by hormones, reproductive health, pregnancy and childbirth, according to the guidelines. The guidelines report that unique stroke risks for women include:

Preeclampsia – Women who develop preeclampsia or extremely high blood pressure during pregnancy have twice the risk of having a stroke and a fourfold risk of high blood pressure later in life. Other stroke risk factors such as smoking, high cholesterol and obesity should be managed early in these women.

Oral contraceptives – Birth control pills can raise a woman’s risk of high blood pressure and stroke. Women should be screened for high blood pressure before beginning oral contraceptives.

Migraines with aura – Women are four times more likely to suffer from migraines with aura than men. This condition has been linked to an increased stroke risk. These women should stop smoking to avoid higher risks.

Dr. Sirna supports the American Heart Association’s tips to cut stroke risk, including being active, eating a healthy diet, refraining from smoking and controlling cholesterol, blood sugar, blood pressure and weight.

About Loyola University Health System

Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is a member of Trinity Health. Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, LUHS is a quaternary care system that includes Loyola University Medical Center (LUMC), located on a 61-acre campus in Maywood, Gottlieb Memorial Hospital (GMH), on a 36-acre campus in Melrose Park, and convenient locations offering primary and specialty care services throughout Cook, Will and DuPage counties. At the heart of LUMC is a 547-licensed-bed hospital that houses the Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine, the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, a Level 1 trauma center, a burn center, a children's hospital, Loyola Outpatient Center, and Loyola Oral Health Center. The campus also is home to Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Loyola University Chicago Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. The GMH campus includes a 254-licensed-bed community hospital, a Professional Office Building with 150 private practice clinics, an adult day care program, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park.

Trinity Health is one of the largest multi-institutional Catholic health care delivery systems in the nation. It serves people and communities in 22 states from coast to coast with 93 hospitals, and 120 continuing care locations — including home care, hospice, PACE and senior living facilities — that provide nearly 2.5 million visits annually.