How Pregnancy Complications increase the risk of Cardiovascular Disease

Herz Heart
Creative Commons License photo credit: Aah-Yeah

Pregnancy is a normal, natural experience for the body, but it’s also historically been a dangerous one. Prior to the advent of modern medicine and birthing techniques, a simple thing like a breech baby could mean death for both mother and child.

Still, even in this age of advanced medical care for pregnant women, there are ways that pregnancy can negatively impact a woman’s health. A new study suggests that there is a connection between pregnancy complications and future cardiovascular disease.

Two pregnancy complications connected with cardiovascular disease

In particular, gestational diabetes and preeclampsia both increased the risk that a woman would develop cardiovascular disease down the road. Women with one of these two have a 30% higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease as far out as 18 years after their pregnancy.

For women who had gestational diabetes, this risk came primarily in the form of having a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Women with type 2 diabetes have a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

For women who had preeclampsia – which is high blood pressure due to pregnancy – the increased risk came from several different risk factors.

Helping doctors piece together the cardiovascular disease puzzle

One of the outcomes of this kind of data is how doctors should approach the diagnosis and risk of cardiovascular disease. For example, because these pregnancy complications increase risk, they should be part of the patient’s risk profile.

This means that health care providers can recommend interventions sooner, so as to hopefully help the woman prevent the onset of cardiovascular disease.

Some pregnancy complications did not add risk

The study looked at some other pregnancy complications, as well, and discovered that they didn’t seem to add any risk of cardiovascular disease down the road. IN particular, having a large-for-gestational-age baby didn’t seem to increase risk, but neither did having a baby born preterm.

So, what about you? Have you had any pregnancy complications? How do you feel about the future risks that these might cause?

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