Warning to pregnant women of the risk of a silent killer that can strike at any time

PREGNANT women have been warned to keep their blood pressure under control to avoid complications later in life.

Those who have high blood pressure during pregnancy have a 63 percent increased risk of developing heart disease as they age, experts found.

Pregnant women have been warned to look out for four key health elements to reduce their risk of a silent killer


Pregnant women have been warned to look out for four key health elements to reduce their risk of a silent killerPhoto credit: Getty

When your blood pressure is too high, it puts strain on your blood vessels, heart and other organs – increasing your risk of a heart attack.

It can sometimes be serious in pregnancy and if you have a previous history of the condition you will be referred to a specialist.

In an article in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, researchers found that having high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, or being overweight or obese after pregnancy accounted for most of the increased risk between complications and future heart-related events.

Physicians examined data from over 60,000 pregnant women with preeclampsia or gestational hypertension – both of which are diagnosed around 20 weeks after pregnancy.

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Preeclampsia is characterized by a sudden increase in blood pressure and can be dangerous for both mother and child.

Gestational hypertension is usually indicated by an increase in blood pressure, which may be more steady and not as sudden as in preeclampsia.

Compared to women who had normal blood pressure during pregnancy, women with hypertension had a 41 percent increase in developing heart disease.

They were also at higher risk of having a stroke 30 years after their first pregnancy.

Women with preeclampsia were at higher risk of having a heart attack as early as 10 years after giving birth.

About 10 percent of the women in the study developed high blood pressure during their first delivery.

Of these, 6.4 percent had preeclampsia and three percent had gestational hypertension.

Experts also discovered that women who were obese before pregnancy were three times more likely to suffer from hypertensive pregnancy disorders.

Those with a family history of heart disease were also at greater risk.

Study author Jennifer J. Stuart said that women with a history of gestational hypertension or preeclampsia should be informed that they have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

She added that women have not received guidance on what to do between the years of delivering a hypertensive pregnancy and the onset of cardiovascular disease.

In order to reduce the risk of heart disease in women, according to the physicians, early screening and monitoring should be carried out in four areas.

These are:

  1. high blood pressure controls
  2. cholesterol test
  3. glucose levels
  4. Body mass index (BMI) checks.

These, the experts say, could create personalized treatment plans for the women and even help delay or prevent future cardiovascular events.

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Sarah Y. Kim

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