Studying Preeclampsia and Stroke

Updated: Mar 5


The research question:

What is the risk of stroke among women who have had preeclampsia?

Preeclampsia is a pregnancy complication that is characterized by high blood pressure. When untreated, preeclampsia can lead to life-threatening complications for both mother and baby.

This analysis of California Teachers Study data seeks to understand whether CTS participants who had preeclampsia during one or more of their pregnancies were at a higher risk of having a stroke later in life.

Most women who have had preeclampsia don’t realize that they are at risk for future cardiovascular disease, including stroke; therefore, it is important that women who have a history of preeclampsia discuss their cardiovascular risk with their primary doctor.

Meet the researcher:

Dr. Eliza Miller is Assistant Professor of Neurology in the Division of Stroke and Cerebrovascular Disease at Columbia University. Her research focuses at Columbia University focuses on pregnancy-associated stroke, and she is partnering with the California Teachers Study to examine whether our study participants who had preeclampsia are at a higher risk of stroke. You can read more about Dr. Miller's work by clicking here.


The questionnaire data:

By combining your answers from all five questionnaires from 1995 and 2012, this study creates a full picture of each participant's health history - specifically their pregnancy experiences - in order to examine whether participants who had preeclampsia went on to have a higher risk of stroke later in life.

What makes this project unique:

Often we think of the California Teachers Study as just focusing on cancer diagnoses among older woman. This project is unique in that it looks at an exposure that occurs early in life - pregnancy and preeclampsia - and evaluates how that exposure might increase risk of early stroke (i.e. stroke among women in their middle age), a health outcome that occurs later in life.

The CTS has always focused on cancer. But CTS data can also be used to study a whole range of other interesting health questions, and this project is a good example of that.

The questionnaire data:

By combining answers from all five questionnaires from 1995 and 2012, this study creates a full picture of each participant's health history. These answers provide the foundation for this research project.

Below are all the past questionnaire answers being used in this project:

Questionnaire 1 (1995):

- Past pregnancies

- Health conditions diagnosed with as of 1995

- Medications used at the time

Questionnaire 2 (1997): - Pregnancies that occurred between 1995 and 1997


Questionnaire 3 (2000):

- Contraceptives used and any hormone therapy, such a menopausal hormone therapy treatments

Questionnaire 4 (2005):

- Pregnancy history

- Medications used at the time

- Health updates

Questionnaire 5 (2012):

- Pregnancy history

- Medications used at the time

- Menstrual status, i.e. whether or not a participant was postmenopausal

March 2019 Update: Dr. Miller's findings from this project have been published and are available here.

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