High Cholesterol During Pregnancy May Cause More Serious Heart Attacks

If the research is confirmed, it could be a warning sign for women to make diet and lifestyle changes aimed at preventing cardiovascular disease.

High maternal cholesterol during pregnancy may be associated with more serious heart attacks in young adult offspring, the results of a small study show.

“More research is needed to verify our findings,” Francesco Cacciatore, PhD, of the University of Naples Federico II, Italy, said in a statement.

“If confirmed, this association would indicate that high cholesterol in pregnancy should be considered a warning sign and women should be encouraged to exercise and reduce their cholesterol intake,” he said. “In addition, affected children could be provided dietary and lifestyle guidance aimed at preventing heart disease later in life.”

The study included 310 individuals who were admitted to the hospital between 1991 and 2019. Of those, 89 were admitted for a heart attack, and the rest were hospitalized for other reasons.

For all individuals, the data about their mother’s cholesterol level during the first and second trimesters of pregnancy were gathered.

Individuals were classified as having severe or non-severe heart attacks according to 3 key indicators: the number of coronary arteries, where 3 was considered severe; and peak levels of creatinine kinase (CK) and CK-MB enzymes, where CK-peak above 1200 mg/dL or CK-MB peak above 200 mg/dL was considered severe; and the pump function of the heart, where a left ventricular ejection fraction of 35% or less was considered severe.

Investigators found that maternal cholesterol during pregnancy was significantly correlated with each measure of heart attack severity.

In a second analysis, investigators found that pregnant mothers’ cholesterol levels were correlated with both measures of atherosclerosis risk. The 2 factors were number of cardiovascular risk factors and number of cardiovascular risk factors, plus clinical manifestations, such as heart attack or stroke.

“Prospective studies are needed to better evaluate the magnitude by which maternal cholesterol may influence the development of atherosclerosis in offspring and the combined effect of risk factors throughout the life,” Cacciatore said.

Investigators adjusted the finding for several other cardiovascular risk factors.

The results are published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.

Reference

Maternal cholesterol during pregnancy linked with heart attack severity in adult offspring. EurekAlert. News release. October 18, 2021. Accessed on October 19, 2021. https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/931696