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Rising cases of strokes and pregnant women

Doctors say to be mindful of risk factors that could put you at an increased chance of stroke.

HOUSTON — "A dream."

That's what Jamie McCown describes the moment she found out she was pregnant.

But becoming pregnant wasn't easy.

McCown has "polycystic ovary syndrome,’’ also known as PCOS, and had to go through in-vitro fertilization.

“My husband and I did a pregnancy test ahead of time and it showed positive," McCown said.

It was the blessing McCown prayed for, but eight weeks into the pregnancy, things took a turn.

“I woke up and I had complete peripheral right vision loss," she said. "Working for an ophthalmologist, I knew something was wrong.”

She was right. After a visit to the emergency room, McCown learned she had suffered a stroke.

“Jamie had an ischemic stroke, and it’s a stroke that comes from a blockage in the blood vessel," said Dr. Anjail Sharriefm, a UT Physicians neurologist. "It occurred to one of the blood vessels in the back of the brain.”

Sharrief cared for McCown after her stroke. She said after testing, they learned of a hole between the left and right atria inside McCown's heart.

“The patent foramen ovale, as I mentioned, everyone is born with, but then it closes for the majority of people," Sharrief said. "But still one in four has a persistent patent foramen ovale.”

McCown was the one in four, which has the potential to cause ischemic stroke. But despite the stroke, she delivered a healthy baby boy.

“His name is Levi," she said. "He’s 6 months old. Came out blue eyes, blonde hair.”

The best things in life don’t come easy and though the journey may be difficult, McCown is reminding other expecting mothers they’re not alone.

"There’s light at the end of the tunnel," she said. "That everything will be OK.”

Stroke in pregnancy is on the rise, doctors say. But they also want you to know that stroke is preventable.

Doctors say to be mindful of risk factors that could put you at an increased chance of stroke. Risk factors include high blood pressure and hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, like preeclampsia or eclampsia. Smoking can also increase your chance of stroke.

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