How does vasculopathy increase the risk of stroke during pregnancy?

Updated: Aug 20, 2019
  • Author: Carmel Armon, MD, MSc, MHS; Chief Editor: Stephen A Berman, MD, PhD, MBA  more...
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Vasculitis is a rare condition that may occur in women of childbearing age and may result in stroke if it involves the cerebral vessels. In addition to focal symptoms of ischemia (stroke), cerebral vasculitis may cause nonfocal symptoms such as headache and encephalopathy. If suspected, particularly in the setting of known systemic vasculitis, the patient should be evaluated with appropriate laboratory and imaging studies. Primary central nervous system (CNS) vasculitis is extremely rare.

Other forms of vasculopathy have been related to stroke in females of childbearing age. This category of noninflammatory vascular disease includes the following:

  • FMD

  • Arterial dissection

  • Moyamoya disease

Arterial dissection causes symptoms of stroke secondary to embolic fragments from the dissection site. Potential causes of a dissection include FMD, trauma, hypertension, and spontaneous etiologies. Treatment for vasculopathy is disease-specific and may involve anticoagulation or surgical intervention. [72, 75]

Migraine headaches are common in young women and can be associated with stroke, but these instances are rare. It is a diagnosis of exclusion.

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