The Pregnancy Complications that had the Most Influence on Heart Disease

There are a lot of different types of complications a woman can have during a pregnancy. Not all pregnancy complications are connected to the development of heart disease later in life. The two pregnancy complications that had the largest impact on heart disease are pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes.

Alarming Statistics

New research leads to the conclusion that women who have certain types of complications during their pregnancies are at a seven times higher risk of developing heart disease later in life. The really alarming part of this research is that the majority of the women that developed these pregnancy complications died of the heart disease later in their lives.

What is Pre-eclampsia?

Pre-eclampsia is a condition where the pregnant woman develops high blood pressure during the latter stages of her pregnancy. Pre-eclampsia is a serious condition that can cause many complications with the developing fetus, and with the mother.

Women who develop pre-eclampsia without having had high blood pressure prior to the latter stages of pregnancy have three times greater risks of developing heart diseases later in life. If the women had high blood pressure before they develop the pre-eclampsia they have a six times higher chance of developing heart disease later in life compared to women who did not have this complication during pregnancy.

The Study

The study into the connection between pregnancy complications and heart disease was performed using the data collected from fifteen thousand pregnant women from the California area who were pregnant between 1959 and 1967. The data compiled showed that of these fifteen thousand women sixty-four percent had no complications during pregnancy. Thirty-one percent of the expectant mothers developed one complication during their pregnancy, and five percent of the women had two or more complications while they were pregnant.

The results showed that 368 of the women had died of heart disease complications by 2011. The women who had died of heart disease were women who had complications during pregnancy.

The cause and effect of this information was not determined, but the connection between the complications and future heart complications was clear. To the researchers, this means that certain pregnancy complications could be warning signs for women about future cardiac complications.

The most Common Pregnancy Complications

The women who died of the heart disease after having complications in pregnancy had some of the following conditions during their pregnancies.

  • Pre-term labor
  • High blood pressure during pregnancy or gestational high blood pressure
  • Pre-existing high blood pressure that was not gestational
  • Gestational diabetes-eclampsia
  • Low birth weight infants
  • Abnormal decline in hemoglobin

What this means

Obstetricians and other medical professionals can use this information to help warn women of their increased risk for heart attacks, strokes, and heart failure later in life. This could allow the women to take better care of their hearts and reduce their chances of early death from heart disease.