Pregnancy Blood Pressure Affects Heart Risk

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Women diagnosed with high blood pressure while pregnant are more at risk for death from heart disease down the road. The current study included 325 women who developed high blood pressure during pregnancy between 1931 and 1947 and 629 healthy participants. The researchers documented heart disease events until the end of 1996.

Reporting in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (March 2005), the researchers found that the death rate from heart disease among women with high blood pressure was 24%, compared with the 15% rate among the control group. Furthermore, the rate of strokerelated deaths was greater in the high blood pressure group, compared with the healthy participants (9.5% vs 6.5%, respectively).

The researchers estimated that the deaths attributed to heart disease cut the survival rate in the heart disease group an average of 3 to 9 years, compared with the control group. The age of the women, when their high blood pressure during pregnancy was diagnosed, factored into the life span. The effect was less pronounced in younger women.