Stroke during pregnancy is a leading cause of maternal death, but the risk of stroke does not end with delivery. Postpartum cerebral angiopathy is a rare condition that affects otherwise healthy women who have undergone a normal pregnancy followed by an uncomplicated delivery. It can cause ischemic or hemorrhagic stroke, or both, and usually occurs within the first week following delivery. Although neurological deficits may be minimized if the condition is recognized early, postpartum cerebral angiopathy may be devastating. It is of utmost importance for nurses to recognize the symptoms of postpartum cerebral angiopathy early and be familiar with disease progression and treatment to prevent further neurological compromise.
Penny Amos, BSN RN CNRN, is the education coordinator at Virginia Commonwealth University Health System, Richmond, VA. Questions or comments about this article may be directed to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.