High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy May Raise Heart Disease Risk

pregnancy, childbirth, Bon Secours Hampton Roads, The Mary Immaculate Birthplace, The Midwifery Center at DePaul, The Maryview Family Birth Center, The DePaul Center for BirthWomen who experience high blood pressure during pregnancy may face higher risks for developing heart disease, chronic kidney disease and diabetes later in life, according to new research.

The study, published in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation, also found that having high blood pressure during pregnancy just once or twice raised the risk substantially, a news release from the AHA states.

“According to our findings, women who have had high blood pressure during pregnancy or who are diagnosed with high blood pressure in pregnancy for the first time might benefit from comprehensive heart disease risk factor checks by their physicians, to decrease their long-term risk of heart disease,” said Dr. Tuija Männistö, lead author of the study and a postdoctoral fellow at the National Institutes of Health, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Doctors have long known that high blood pressure and measurable protein in a pregnant woman’s urine can signal preeclampsia – a serious disease that can raise a woman’s risk for heart and kidney disease.

But for this study, researchers studied the effects of “less serious forms of high blood pressure that are much more common in pregnancy women,” the release states. The women in the study, all Finnish, were followed for 40 years after giving birth in 1966. Researchers compared the women’s risk of diabetes and heart or kidney disease later in life based on whether they had experienced any high blood pressure readings during pregnancy.

Their findings include:

  • One-third of the women had at least one high blood pressure measurement during pregnancy.
  • Women who had any high blood pressure during pregnancy had 14 percent to over 100 percent higher risk of cardiovascular diseases later in life, compared to women with normal blood pressure during pregnancy.
  • Women who had any high blood pressure during pregnancy were 2 to 5 times more likely to die from heart attacks than women with normal blood pressure during pregnancy.
  • Women who had high blood pressure during pregnancy and healthy blood pressure levels after pregnancy had a 1.6- to 2.5-fold higher risk of having high blood pressure requiring medication or hospitalization later in life.
  • Women who had high blood pressure during pregnancy had a 1.4- to 2.2-fold higher risk of having diabetes in later life.
  • Women who had transient high blood pressure with and without measurable protein in the urine had a 1.9- to 2.8-fold higher risk of kidney disease in later life, compared to women with normal blood pressure during pregnancy. Transient high blood pressure is temporary high blood pressure that later returns to normal.

Source: American Heart Association news release

+ Stay healthy by following screening guidelines from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.

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