Infertility, miscarriage and stillbirth ‘linked to an increased risk of stroke’, study says

Infertility, miscarriage and stillbirth have been linked to an increased risk of stroke in a new study.

Experts examined global data and found women who had had three miscarriages or more appeared to have a 35 per cent increased risk of non-fatal stroke, or one resulting in death.

One miscarriage was linked to a 7 per cent increased risk of non-fatal stroke, while two was linked to a 12 per cent increased risk.

For fatal stroke, women with one miscarriage had an 8 per cent increased risk, two was linked to a 26 per cent increased risk and three was linked to an 82 per cent increased risk.

A woman dealing with miscarriage concerns sits on a hospital bed

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The study also found women who had suffered stillbirth were at 31 per cent higher risk of a non-fatal stroke and 7 per cent increased risk of fatal stroke.

Researchers suggested possible reasons for the findings, including the link between infertility and increased stroke risk may be due to conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and premature ovarian insufficiency (POI).

A narrowing of the heart’s blood vessels may also explain the increased risk of stroke for women with a history of recurrent stillbirth or miscarriage.

However, the team also said unhealthy lifestyles contribute to stroke risk, as they called for more research into the area.

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Recurrent stillbirth was linked to a 26 per cent higher risk of fatal stroke in the study.

Infertility was also linked to a 14 per cent higher risk of non-fatal stroke compared to women who were fertile.

Writing in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), the experts, including from the University of Queensland in Australia and University College London, concluded: “A history of recurrent miscarriages and death or loss of a baby before or during birth could be considered a female-specific risk factor for stroke, with differences in risk according to stroke subtypes.

“These findings could contribute to improved monitoring and stroke prevention for women with such a history.”

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For the study, the team looked at eight lots of research carried out in Australia, China, Japan, the Netherlands, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the US.

Overall, more than 600,000 women aged 32 to 73 at the start of the study were included, of which 9,265 experienced a first non-fatal stroke (2.8 per cent), typically aged 62, and 4,003 (0.7 per cent) experienced a fatal stroke, typically aged 71.

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