For the first time in history, stroke-prevention guidelines have been released for women. And there is a good reason why we’re being singled out. More than half of the 795,000 strokes that happen in the US annually occur in women. In addition, a recent study in the journal Neurology found that women’s quality of life post-stroke is worse than men’s. Our hormones, pregnancies, childbirth, as well as other gender-specific factors put us higher risk of this potentially fatal blockage in the brain. Read on to see how you can lower your stroke risk.

The Risk: Preeclampsia. This condition is a significant risk factor during and after pregnancy, so if you’re trying to put a bun in the oven, prevention is key. The guidelines recommend that women with chronic hypertension or previous pregnancy-related hypertension take low-dose aspirin from the 12th week of gestation until delivery. And if you consume less than 600 mg daily of calcium, you should consider taking calcium supplements.

If you have high blood pressure during pregnancy, speak to your doctor about ways to control it. There are antihypertensive drugs that can be used safely during pregnancy, and there are also lifestyle changes that could help.

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