New American Heart Association and American Stroke Association guidelines for women

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The American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association have new guidelines to help women know and decrease their risk of stroke.

Ladies, you have an increased risk of heart attack or stroke if someone in your family has had one, if you smoke, or if you are diabetic.

Now, new guidelines find if you are pregnant, take birth control pills or have migraines, then you too are at greater risk.

Jeffrey Sell, M.D., Chief of Cardiovascular Surgery of Sarasota Memorial Hospital said women need to pay attention as heart disease, stroke and hypertension are no longer only diseases of women as they age.

"We've known that migraines are associated with brain, blood circulation. What we haven't known is that in women, that's a significant association with stroke," said Dr. Sell.

Migraines are also associated with some heart problems, and women's lifestyle choices may also increase risk. Sell added, "Birth control pills even carry some risks and those risks are even magnified if they smoke."

"The guidelines specifically address the risk of stroke in women," said Chippy Nalluri, M.D., of Heart Specialists of Sarasota. "Although stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in men, it is the third leading cause of death in women." She added, "Being on hormone replacement therapy can have implications in regards to stroke risk."

Some pregnancy conditions, said Dr. Nalluri, increase your risk of heart disease. She explained, "Preeclampsia, which is high blood pressure with protein in the urine, can predispose women to cardiovascular risk in the future."

Other pregnancy conditions raising your stroke risk said Dr. Sell include diabetes, and high blood pressure. All of those may not resolve after the pregnancy is over and need to be treated and/or watched over the years.