A Statement for Healthcare Professionals From the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association

From the February 2014 issue of Stroke.

Cheryl Bushnell, MD, MHS, FAHA, Chair, Louise D. McCullough, MD, PhD, FAHA, Vice-Chair, Issam A. Awad, MD, MSc, Monique V. Chireau, MD, MPH, FAHA, Wende N. Fedder, DNP, RN, FAHA, Karen L. Furie, MD, MPH, FAHA, Virginia J. Howard, PhD, MSPH, FAHA, Judith H. Lichtman, PhD, MPH, Lynda D. Lisabeth, PhD, MPH, FAHA, Ileana L. Piña, MD, MPH, FAHA, Mathew J. Reeves, PhD, DVM, FAHA, Kathryn M. Rexrode, MD, MPH, Gustavo Saposnik, MD, MSc, FAHA, Vineeta Singh, MD, FAHA, Amytis Towfighi, MD, Viola Vaccarino, MD, PhD and Matthew R. Walters, MD, MBChB, MSc on behalf of the American Heart Association Stroke Council, Council on Cardiovascular and Stroke Nursing, Council on Clinical Cardiology, Council on Epidemiology and Prevention, and Council for High Blood Pressure Research

Purpose—The aim of this statement is to summarize data on stroke risk factors that are unique to and more common in women than men and to expand on the data provided in prior stroke guidelines and cardiovascular prevention guidelines for women. This guideline focuses on the risk factors unique to women, such as reproductive factors, and those that are more common in women, including migraine with aura, obesity, metabolic syndrome, and atrial fibrillation.

Methods—Writing group members were nominated by the committee chair on the basis of their previous work in relevant topic areas and were approved by the American Heart Association (AHA) Stroke Council’s Scientific Statement Oversight Committee and the AHA’s Manuscript Oversight Committee. The panel reviewed relevant articles on adults using computerized searches of the medical literature through May 15, 2013. The evidence is organized within the context of the AHA framework and is classified according to the joint AHA/American College of Cardiology and supplementary AHA Stroke Council methods of classifying the level of certainty and the class and level of evidence. The document underwent extensive AHA internal peer review, Stroke Council Leadership review, and Scientific Statements Oversight Committee review before consideration and approval by the AHA Science Advisory and Coordinating Committee.

Results—We provide current evidence, research gaps, and recommendations on risk of stroke related to preeclampsia, oral contraceptives, menopause, and hormone replacement, as well as those risk factors more common in women, such as obesity/metabolic syndrome, atrial fibrillation, and migraine with aura.

Conclusions—To more accurately reflect the risk of stroke in women across the lifespan, as well as the clear gaps in current risk scores, we believe a female-specific stroke risk score is warranted.

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