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

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

Those who experience the high blood pressure whist pregnant have a 63 per cent increased risk of developing heart disease as they age, experts found.

If your blood pressure is too high then it puts a 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 already have a history of the condition then you will be referred to a specialist.

Writing in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, researchers found that 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.

Medics looked at data of over 60,000 pregnant women who had preeclampsia or gestational hypertension – which are both diagnosed around 20 weeks after pregnancy.

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Preeclampsia is marked by a sudden rise in blood pressure and can be dangerous for both mum and baby.

Gestational hypertension is usually indicated by an increase in blood pressure, which could be steadier and not as sudden as those with preeclampsia.

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

They were also more likely to have a stroke 30 years after their first pregnancy.

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Women with preeclampsia were more likely to have a heart attack as soon as 10 years after their first birth.

Around 10 per cent of the women in the study developed hypertension during their first delivery.

Among those, 6.4 per cent had preeclampsia and three per cent had gestational hypertension.

Experts also discovered that women who were obese before pregnancy were three times more likely to experience hypertensive pregnancy disorder.

Those with a family history of heart conditions were also more at risk.

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

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

In order to reduce the risk of heart disease in women, the medics said early screening and monitoring should be taken in four areas.

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These are:

  1. High blood pressure checks
  2. Cholesterol testing
  3. Glucose levels
  4. Body mass index (BMI) checks

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

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