7. Pregnancy Complications
During pregnancy, women who are diagnosed with preeclampsia (dangerously high blood pressure) are prone to a high risk of stroke later in life. Gestational diabetes is also a high-risk indicator. Preeclampsia is a sign of stress on the circulatory system, and can also predict the risk of developing high blood pressure later in life, says Dr. Bushnell. “Also, gestational diabetes is associated with an increased risk of diabetes– both hypertension and diabetes are very important stroke risk factors.” ASA’s new stroke guidelines for women, written by Dr. Bushnell, recommend doctors pay close attention to a patient’s health during pregnancy. Dr. Rexrode also notes that pregnancy itself increases stroke risk.
6. Multiple Miscarriages
Miscarriages may also be a predictor of stroke risk if the miscarriage was due to a clotting disorder, according to the American Stroke Association. “The clotting factors increase the risk of developing clots in the heart or in the blood vessels of the brain, both of which can lead to a stroke,” Dr. Bushnell says. A history of clots in the legs, or deep vein thrombosis (DVT), is also another sign of a clotting disorder.
5. Low Levels of Key Hormone
Dr. Rexrode’s research also identified another stroke risk in women: low levels of DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone). “DHEA, a hormone made by the adrenal glands, is used in the manufacture of other hormones, including estrogens and androgens (male hormones),” says Dr. Rexrode. “It is not entirely clear whether low DHEA levels reflect some other underlying problem, or whether the effect on risk of stroke is through their influence on other hormone levels.”Related: 19 Things to Consider for Good Heart Health