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The Dangers of Maternal Stroke Associated with Pregnancy

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Seasoned Attorneys Discuss Maternal Strokes due to Medical Negligence and When You May Have a Claim for Compensation

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released its 2021 report about the steady rise in maternal mortality rates in the United States, the highest in the developed world. Notably, the number of deaths due to stroke among pregnant and postpartum women is also rising, accounting for most maternal deaths. After heart disease, cancer, and chronic lower respiratory disease, stroke is the leading cause of death in U.S. women. 7.7% of U.S. maternal deaths are due to stroke, and survivors of maternal stroke most often have a lifelong disability due to neurological defects and damage. Young pregnant women under 36 are more likely to suffer a stroke than those over 35. In fact, 18% of all strokes in women under 36 are maternal strokes, and half are caused by brain hemorrhaging. Pregnant and postpartum women are three times more at risk for stroke than non-pregnant women in the same age range.

A stroke requires immediate medical attention to avoid permanent physical and cognitive damage or death. Despite this, maternal strokes may go undiagnosed until consequences are dire. In many cases, maternal stroke deaths are largely preventable through extensive patient obstetric history familiarity, early detection of common causes and risk factors for these events, rapid diagnosis, and for cerebrovascular issues, referral to a neurologist familiar with pregnancy complications due to hypertensive disorders.

Maternal stroke survivors may need long-term care for neurological defects. Many return to hospitals after postpartum strokes. However, many women die. Family members who lose their spouse, partner, or mother are left to pick up the pieces in these devastating situations. A stroke survivor may not be able to care for her newborn, while a grieving family may be left to mourn the loss of a beloved woman in their life. When these hardships are due to avoidable medical errors, loved ones may seek recourse in the legal system from negligent medical professionals. If you or a loved one experienced a maternal stroke due to medical negligence, it is important to have your case investigated by an experienced team of medical malpractice attorneys and to find out if you may be entitled to seek compensation. Contact our seasoned medical malpractice and wrongful death lawyers to discuss your maternal stroke case and how we can assist you with pursuing the justice and compensation you and your family deserve. Simply contact us at 866-708-8617 or send us a message to request a free consultation today.

Understanding Maternal Stroke Associated with Pregnancy

A stroke occurs when brain cells, deprived of blood, begin to die. The two main types of stroke are ischemic stroke and hemorrhagic stroke. An ischemic stroke refers to an event in which clots or plaque block blood flow to the brain, while a hemorrhagic stroke refers to an event in which arteries to the brain leak or rupture. Notably, most maternal strokes are hemorrhagic, accounting for about 60%. This is distinct when compared to the general population that suffers ischemic strokes primarily. Consider that 87% of strokes in the general population are ischemic, while the majority of maternal strokes are hemorrhagic.

Causes and Risk Factors for Maternal Stroke

Pregnancy changes to the immune and vascular systems contribute to both types of stroke. An aneurysm can cause a stroke, but in pregnancy, hypertension and other pregnancy-related conditions are common causes of maternal stroke. High blood pressure can cause bulges in the arteries, risking aneurysms or burst arteries and hemorrhagic stroke.  Cerebral venous thrombosis, or blood clots to the brain venous sinuses, also cause maternal stroke postpartum.

Risk factors for stroke among pregnant women include older age, chronic hypertension, heart disease, obesity, high cholesterol, smoking, migraine, blood clotting disorders, and infections, but predominantly cardiovascular-related conditions contribute to maternal stroke. One-third of U.S. maternal deaths result from cardiovascular conditions, nearly two-thirds of which are preventable. Race is another factor, with Black women at higher risk of dying from maternal stroke. Studies show Black, Asian, Pacific Islander, and Hispanic women are twice as likely to suffer a maternal stroke than non-Hispanic White women. And postpartum (as late as 12 weeks after delivery) women suffer more strokes, primarily due to hemorrhage, than pregnant women.

Hypertension is the most preventable of the pregnancy risk factors leading to stroke. Gestational hypertension, preeclampsia, eclampsia, and chronic hypertension are pregnancy-related hypertensive disorders that can be controlled with medication and lifestyle changes. Even more than cardiovascular conditions, hypertension disorders present high risks for maternal stroke. Also, gestational diabetes contributes to high blood pressure. And those who suffer from migraines during pregnancy and postpartum are also more likely to suffer a stroke. In fact, preeclampsia and migraine often go together.

Moreover, pregnant women prone to the urinary tract and other infections are at higher risk for ischemic stroke. The body’s immune response to infections increases fatty deposit accumulation in the arteries and oxidative stress related to maternal stroke. Also, conditions that lead to blood clots, such as lupus and sickle cell disease, increase preeclampsia, premature birth, and ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke.

Signs of Maternal Stroke during Pregnancy, Childbirth, or Postpartum

A person experiencing a stroke may have numb arms, legs, or face muscles, especially on one side of the body; confusion; and difficulty speaking, seeing, or walking. They may lose their balance and have a sudden severe headache. Emergency medical care for a person with these symptoms can save a person’s life.

Strategies to Prevent Maternal Strokes and Associated Complications

Physicians who know their patient’s medical history, including cardiovascular disease and hypertension, can monitor patients for developing preeclampsia and blood pressure rises. Physicians can also advise pregnant women with obesity about lifestyle changes, such as regular exercise, weight loss, and healthy nutrition. They can advise expecting moms to quit smoking before getting pregnant and lower high blood pressure with physical activity.

The key to maternal stroke prevention is early detection of hypertensive disorders like preeclampsia, along with treatment, such as prescribing the appropriate medication for patients at risk for developing preeclampsia. Also, better and longer postpartum follow-ups with monitoring can help early detection of rising blood pressure, headaches, and other symptoms of potential hemorrhagic stroke. As mentioned, preventing a stroke from occurring is the number one priority. However, identifying the signs immediately and taking urgent action to prevent complications or the mother’s death is also crucial once a maternal stroke occurs.

Consult a Medical Malpractice Lawyer to Explore Your Rights and Options in New Jersey

If your loved one suffered or died at the hands of a negligent physician who failed to diagnose a stroke, refer a patient to a specialist, monitor pregnancy risk factors for a stroke, or treat a condition that commonly causes maternal stroke, you should seek the help of a dedicated medical malpractice attorney to explore your legal options. Wrongful death and medical malpractice lawsuits are vehicles for those wronged by medical negligence to recover financial losses, be compensated for future economic losses, obtain damages for emotional and physical suffering, and achieve justice.

However, the difficulty with filing a medical malpractice claim is the complexity of proving a case in a court of law. Understanding the legal requirements of filing a lawsuit is complicated enough, but layer on top of that, the knowledge and education required to evaluate medical negligence, medical professional duties and practices, and injury causation. The responsible parties, such as doctors, nurses, lab technicians, and hospitals, will be armed with their own attorneys to defend them, so you need a strong, experienced medical malpractice lawyer to pursue your rights to compensation.

Our team of accomplished medical malpractice attorneys will handle your case with attention and meticulous care. We proceed by conducting a thorough investigation as to what occurred, tracing clues in medical documents, consulting medical experts on maternal death, interviewing potential witnesses, and conducting discovery. Through our intensive review of your case, we can obtain crucial information that supports your claim for full financial compensation. Our experience also affords us a unique advantage when obtaining information from the defendants in your case through sworn statements in written discovery and oral depositions. Overall, we fight for justice and compensation for your family as if they are our own.

Contact a medical malpractice attorney on our team at 866-708-8617 to discuss your rights and responsibilities in seeking redress for the injuries suffered by your loved one due to a maternal stroke.

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