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Stroke Research and Treatment
Volume 2011 (2011), Article ID 606780, 13 pages
Review Article

Ischemic Stroke during Pregnancy and Puerperium

1Dipartimento di Scienze Biomediche e Biotecnologie, Università degli Studi di Brescia, 25128 Brescia, Italy
2Dipartimento di Scienze Mediche e Chirurgiche, Clinica Neurologica, Università degli Studi di Brescia, P.le Spedali Civili, 1, 25100 Brescia, Italy

Received 10 August 2010; Accepted 4 December 2010

Academic Editor: Halvor Naess

Copyright © 2011 Elisabetta Del Zotto et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Ischemic stroke during pregnancy and puerperium represents a rare occurrence but it could be a serious and stressful event for mothers, infants, and also families. Whenever it does occur, many concerns arise about the safety of the mother and the fetus in relation to common diagnostic tests and therapies leading to a more conservative approach. The physiological adaptations in the cardiovascular system and in the coagulability that accompany the pregnant state, which are more significant around delivery and in the postpartum period, likely contribute to increasing the risk of an ischemic stroke. Most of the causes of an ischemic stroke in the young may also occur in pregnant patients. Despite this, there are specific conditions related to pregnancy which may be considered when assessing this particular group of patients such as pre-eclampsia-eclampsia, choriocarcinoma, peripartum cardiomiopathy, amniotic fluid embolization, and postpartum cerebral angiopathy. This article will consider several questions related to pregnancy-associated ischemic stroke, dwelling on epidemiological and specific etiological aspects, diagnostic issue concerning the use of neuroimaging, and the related potential risks to the embryo and fetus. Therapeutic issues surrounding the use of anticoagulant and antiplatelets agents will be discussed along with the few available reports regarding the use of thrombolytic therapy during pregnancy.