New heart group guidelines aim at preventing stroke in women, pregnancy is one focus

The Associated Press

Denise Miller poses on her front porch Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014, in Southington, Ohio. Miller suffered a stroke last year that fooled doctors at two Northeast Ohio hospitals before it was finally diagnosed at the Cleveland Clinic. She was 36 and had no traditional risk factors.The American Heart Association on Thursday issued its first guidelines for preventing strokes in women, focusing on birth control, pregnancy, depression and other risk factors that women face uniquely or more frequently than men do. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Associated Press + More

MIGRAINES: Women are four times more likely to have migraines than men, and they often coincide with hormone swings. Migraines alone don't raise the risk of stroke, but ones with aura do. Using oral contraceptives and smoking raise this risk even more, so the guidelines urge stopping smoking.

IRREGULAR HEARTBEAT: Women over age 75 should be checked for atrial fibrillation. Doctors do this by taking a pulse or listening to the heartbeat.

MENOPAUSE: Hormone therapy should not be used to try to prevent strokes.

The new guidelines put women's issues "on the table" so more doctors talk about them, said Dr. Shazam Hussain, stroke chief at the Cleveland Clinic. "Gender does make a difference. The medical community has neglected it for some time."

___

Marilynn Marchione can be followed at http://twitter.com/MMarchioneAP

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.