Monday, December 23, 2013

Hypertension During Pregnancy Raise Risk For Heart Disease

Hypertension (high blood pressure) occurs in approximately 8 to 10 percent of pregnancies. Research showed that women with hypertension during pregnancy might have a higher risk of hypertension even decades after maternity. This would in turn lead to an increased risk of a number of chronic diseases including heart disease. 

A group of researchers from National Institutes of Health, Imperial College London, Oulu University Hospital, Oulu, Finland and University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland reported that hypertension during pregnancy, even once or twice during routine medical care, can indicate substantially higher risks of heart and kidney disease and diabetes. Their findings were published on February 12, 2013 in the American Heart Association journal ‘Circulation’.

Previous study had shown that higher heart and kidney disease risk in women with preeclampsia, which is a serious pregnancy-related disease marked with hypertension and measurable protein in the urine.

The new study followed Finnish women who had babies in 1966 for 40 years. The risk of heart or kidney disease or diabetes in later life was calculated among women with hypertension during pregnancy.

Compared to women with normal blood pressure during pregnancy, women who had hypertension during pregnancy had 14 percent to over 100 percent higher risk of cardiovascular diseases (heart disease and stroke) later in life. These women were also 2 to 5 times more likely to die from heart attacks, a 1.4- to 2.2-fold higher risk of having diabetes in later life. Women who had hypertension during pregnancy and healthy blood pressure levels after that had a 1.6- to 2.5-fold higher risk of having hypertension requiring medication or hospitalization later in life. Women with transient hypertension with and without measurable protein in the urine had a 1.9- to 2.8-fold higher risk of kidney disease in later life. Transient hypertension is temporary high blood pressure that will return to normal later.

According to researchers, women who had hypertension or who had diagnosed with hypertension during pregnancy for the first time might benefit from comprehensive heart disease risk factor checks by their doctors so as to reduce their long-term risk of heart disease.

Future study should find out how lifestyle chances during pregnancy would affect the risk of developing hypertension and it is important that these researches focus on how lifestyle changes and clinical follow-up after pregnancy could improve these women’s long-term health.

As the study was limited to non-Hispanic Caucasian Finnish women, researchers are not certain whether results would apply to other racial and ethnic groups.

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