Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Stroke Health Center

Font Size

Rare Form of Stroke Affects Young People

CVT, Which Often Affects Pregnant Women and Young Adults, More Common Than Previously Thought
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

Feb. 3, 2011 -- The American Heart Association says in a new scientific statement that a rare and often underreported form of stroke involving the veins and not the arteries is more common than previously thought.

The AHA says the statement is its first on diagnosing and managing cerebral venous thrombosis, also known as CVT, which affects children, young adults, and women during pregnancy and in the postpartum period.

The statement is published in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association, and is a comprehensive review of diagnosing, imaging, and treating the disorder.

This type of stroke is caused by a clot in the dural venous sinuses, veins that drain blood from the brain toward the heart.

Facts About Cerebral Venous Thrombosis

According to the new statement:

  • Cerebral venous thrombosis disproportionately affects pregnant women or women taking oral contraceptives, as well as people 45 and younger.
  • The incidence of this type of stroke during pregnancy and postpartum periods ranges from one in 2,500 deliveries to one in 10,000 deliveries in Western countries. The greatest risk occurs during the third trimester and in the first four weeks of the postpartum period.
  • Oral contraceptive use increases risk of CVT. The statement authors, an international team of researchers, recommend that patients with suspected CVT undergo blood tests to determine if they have an inherited or acquired factor in the blood that predisposes them to blood clots.

Screening Recommended for Some Patients With CVT

The scientists also recommend screening patients for conditions that may predispose them to CVT, such as underlying inflammatory disease and infection or the use of oral contraceptives.

“A predisposing condition to form clots or a direct cause is identified in about two-thirds of patients with CVT,” Gustavo Saposnik, MD, assistant professor of medicine at Saint Michael’s Hospital at the University of Toronto, says in a news release. “Examples include pregnancy, immediate postpartum, dehydration or infections in children, and patients taking oral contraceptives. Some of these predisposing conditions are transient and reversible.”

The statement says a blood test can determine whether a person has a hereditary condition that makes their blood more likely to clot and thereby increasing their risk of CVT.

The AHA statement says patients having a brain hemorrhage with an unclear cause should undergo an imaging scan of their cerebral veins. The most common symptom of CVT is headaches that progress in severity over days or weeks, and also seizures. Some patients may report double vision, weakness affecting their extremities, or other neurological findings.

CVT generally is diagnosed based on imaging and clinical suspicion. Magnetic resonance imaging is usually more sensitive to detecting CVT than CT imaging, the researchers say.

Today on WebMD

brain illustration stroke
Know these 5 signs.
brain scans
Test your stroke smarts.
woman with migraine
Is there a link?
brain scan
Get the facts.
brain scans
woman with migraine
brain scan
senior man stretching pre workout
Floor level view of therapist helping stroke patie
concerned woman
Lowering Cholesterol Slideshow