Acute stroke in pregnancy can be devastating. Although neurologists will at some point be involved in the management, most of these patients are likely to first be evaluated by an obstetric care provider. It is, therefore, important for obstetric care providers to have an understanding of the presentation and management of stroke, particularly in the initial period when the window of opportunity for therapy is critical. Once suspected, a head computed tomography (CT) without contrast media should be performed without delay to rule out a hemorrhagic component. Patients presenting within 4.5 hours of symptom onset and with an initial normal head CT scan are candidates for alteplase (tissue plasminogen activator [tPA]). Blood pressure (BP) control is paramount when administering tPA. During pregnancy, we recommend maintaining a BP between 140-160/90-110 mm Hg during tPA treatment. Pregnancy should not be a contraindication for mechanical thrombectomy in carefully selected patients. The use of therapeutic anticoagulation during the acute management of ischemic stroke is not indicated owing to an increased risk of hemorrhagic transformation. Supportive therapy should include aggressive treatment of fever, avoidance of hypotonic maintenance fluids, and maintenance of normal serum sodium levels. Serum glucose levels should be kept between 140 and 180 mg/dL. Antiplatelet agents are indicated for secondary prevention. The management of cerebral venous sinus thrombosis, carotid and vertebral dissections, and reversible cerebral vasoconstrictive disease should overall follow same guidelines as for nonpregnant individuals.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Obstetrics and Gynecology