Women with hypertension during pregnancy have an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases (CVDs). This may include a condition like preeclampsia.
Dr. Fergus McCarthy works at INFANT Research Centre at University College Cork, Ireland. Under his supervision, the research team studied the United Kingdom’s health records from 1997 to 2016. Using the electronic data, they created a large cohort of 1.3 million pregnant women. They successfully covered 1.9 million complete pregnancies.
The researchers statistically analyzed the data. They tried to identify the association between high blood pressure in pregnancy and 12 different cardiovascular diseases.
During the total study period of 20 years, researchers found that 18,624 events related to the cardiovascular system occurred. These include heart attack, heart failure, stroke, and others. Out of all the affected individuals, 65% were the women under 40 years of age.
The research findings are published in the journal Circulation on Sep 23rd, 2019.
Effects of hypertension during pregnancy
Pregnancy with high blood pressure affects 10% of the pregnancies. It usually leads to complications in pregnant women. These complications often lead to the need for delivering the baby before normal time.
The women who suffer from hypertension during pregnancy such as preeclampsia and others have increased risk of a cardiovascular event. This may occur as heart attack, heart failure, stroke or any other similar condition.
The number of deaths of women who had hypertension during their pregnancy was twice than women without pregnancy hypertension. These deaths occurred due to some cardiovascular event.
Similarly, women with pregnancy hypertension developed chronic hypertension around 4.5 times faster than the other group.
The researchers also observed another important finding. The increased risk of CVDs in women with pregnancy high blood pressure appeared right after one year of pregnancy. This was quite earlier as compared to women without pregnancy hypertension.
Almost 10,000 individuals die from cardiovascular diseases annually. The most common CVDs leading to death are coronary heart disease, stroke, heart attack, and others.
In Ireland, cardiovascular diseases are the most common cause of death. The CVDs are responsible for 36% of all death in the country. Among CVDs, the most important for causing deaths is coronary heart disease.
22% of the deaths among individuals of age under 65 years occur due to CVDs.
Importance of research findings
Dr. McCarthy commented that this research project supports previous evidence regarding pregnancy and future incidents. This proves that whatever happens to a woman during pregnancy has life-long effects on her health.
Dr. McCarthy also added that if we monitor the pregnancy outcomes, we can identify women with increased risks of CVDs. As a result, we can offer them preventative measures to avoid the risk of developing diseases even after pregnancy.
Therefore, we should use the research outcomes to provide mothers with better health care in time.
Prof. Lucy Chappell, from King’s College London, also commented about the required interventions. She said that we should provide mothers who have had pregnancy hypertension with intervention measure. As a result, we can reduce the risk of CVDs in them.
Researchers believe that the next step should be about determining the factors that may reduce the CVD risk. These include diet modifications, physical activity, salt restriction or reduction, etc. Thus, women may enjoy long term health, even after pregnancy complications.