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New guidelines: Women face higher stroke risk

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New guidelines from the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association call for women to monitor their risk for stroke more carefully than men. 

Stroke is the third-leading cause of death in American women, the Washington Post reports:

Women share many of the same risk factors as men for stroke, but they have unique risks that come with pregnancy complications and hormone use, said Cheryl Bushnell, associate professor of neurology at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C., who led a group of experts that developed the guidelines.

Previous guidelines about cardiovascular prevention in women have included some information about stroke. "But it was buried in there," said Bushnell, who has been studying the topic for more than a decade. "We wanted to take topics that are really women-specific and emphasize stroke and put it all in one guideline."

The recommendations, published in the journal Stroke, emphasize the importance of controlling blood pressure, especially in young women. They are aimed at a broader age range than most recommendations.

"We're talking about being aware of blood pressure before you ever take birth-control medication, being aware of blood pressure before you ever get pregnant," Bushnell said.

Dr. Jon Hallberg, a physician at the University of Minnesota and All Things Considered's regular medical analyst, spoke with MPR News' Tom Crann about the new guidelines. Click the audio player above to hear their conversation.

And here's an infographic the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association with more about the guidelines: