Obese mothers are at a higher risk for heart attack and stroke after giving birth than women of normal weight, according to a study published in the March 2013 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology
The researchers examined close to 300,000 women with an average age of 30 years who gave birth from 2004 to 2009. The participants had no history of heart and kidney problems or stroke. The women were divided into 4 groups based on body mass index (BMI): underweight (less than 18.5), normal weight (18.5-24.9), overweight (25-29.9), and obese (at least 30). Results from the group of normal-weight women were used as a control.
After a maximum 6-year follow-up period, 68 women had heart attacks and 174 suffered strokes. Compared with mothers of normal weight, heart attacks were more common in underweight women (hazard ratio of 2.61), overweight women (1.82), and obese women (3.35). Stroke was also more common in underweight women (hazard ratio of 1.13), overweight women (1.36), and obese women (2.07). Obese women continued to face a higher risk of heart attack and stroke after the researchers considered other risk factors and pregnancy-related complications.