Research Suggests Complicated Pregnancies May Indicate Increased Risk of Heart Disease and Early Death

New research suggests that women who experience numerous complications during pregnancy, such as preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, or preterm birth, may also be at an increased risk of developing heart disease and early death.

Complications during pregnancy were linked to a 60% increased risk for cardiovascular disease and a greater than 200% increased risk for death from any cause.

The study was done at Duke University Medical Center and Durham Veterans Affairs Medical Center and was presented at a meeting of the American College of Cardiology, in Atlanta.

The researchers also found that women who smoked during pregnancy continue to risk harming the health of their fetus; however, they also increase their own risk of death from all causes by 200% and from cardiac-related death by almost 300%. Smoking also increases a woman’s risk of coronary artery disease by almost 200%.

“The complications during pregnancy that we studied could have lasting effects on the cardiovascular system and can be seen as novel early warning signs of future heart disease or mortality risk,” Duke cardiologist Dr. Mimi Biswas said in a statement.

The findings suggest that pregnant women could benefit from a targeted heart disease prevention campaign.

“Typically, younger women tend not to be closely followed for cardiovascular disease — based on the results of our analyses, those with difficult pregnancies should be,” Biswas said. “Knowing that these complications may have ramifications later in life gives us a unique opportunity to catch women early. When women are young, they may tend to focus on the care of their babies and gloss over going to the doctor for their own care.”

(Source: HealthDay News 3/13/06)

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