Pregnancy Hypertension Linked to Heart Disease Later in Life: Study
Women who experience high blood pressure during pregnancy may face a significant risk of developing heart disease within a few years after giving birth, according to the findings of a new research.
In a study published this month in the medical journal JAMA Network Open, British researchers warn that genetic hypertension conditions among pregnant women appear to be linked with an increased risk of coronary artery disease and ischemic stroke.
Researchers from the National Heart and Lung Institute at the Imperial College London conducted a genome-wide genetic association study following more than 250,000 people in 2022. Pregnancy hypertensive conditions were identified as any condition during pregnancy related to high blood pressure, including gestational hypertension, and preeclampsia/eclampsia.
Preeclampsia is a pregnancy complication marked by abnormally high blood pressure. It can lead to kidney damage, and organ damage, and in serious cases that aren’t treated quickly, it can lead to death for the mother or the infant. The condition is a leading cause of pregnancy-related death worldwide, largely because hospitals are unprepared to treat the condition.
Prior research has linked preeclampsia to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke in the child later in life. However, this new study suggests that mothers may also face a future risk.
Hypertensive disorders in general during pregnancy are a major cause of maternal and fetal death worldwide and are linked to the future risk of cardiovascular disease for both the mother and child.
Pregnancy Hypertension Heart Disease Risks
In this new study, researchers identified more than 122,000 cases of coronary artery disease during the study period, more than 34,000 cases of ischemic stroke, nearly 48,000 cases of heart failure, and 60,000 cases of atrial fibrillation.
Genetically predicted hypertensive disorders in pregnancy were linked with a higher risk of coronary artery disease and ischemic stroke. There was no link between pregnancy hypertension and heart failure or atrial fibrillation risk.
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Part of the risk may be attributed to cardiometabolic factors, such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and high cholesterol. These conditions can often lead to the onset of other conditions, like high blood pressure. But those conditions don’t account for the entire risk posed to pregnant women with hypertension.
“The findings of this study provide genetic evidence supporting an association between hypertensive disorders in pregnancy and higher risk of coronary artery disease and stroke, which is only partially mediated by cardiometabolic factors,” researchers wrote. “This supports the classification of HDPs as risk factors for cardiovascular disease.”
The researchers concluded that the results highlight the need to consider hypertensive disorders during pregnancy as important risk factors for heart disease. Pregnant patients should be screened and monitored for risk factors and symptoms to offer early treatment and help prevent long-term risks.
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