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Pre-Eclampsia Linked to Heart Attack and Stroke Risk

Written by on January 27, 2023

“Women may mistake these for ‘normal’ pregnancy symptoms and thus not seek medical help until the condition becomes severe,” said Hallum. “Most cases are mild, but pre-eclampsia may lead to serious complications for the mother and baby if not treated in time.”

It is well established that pre-eclampsia predisposes women to an elevated likelihood of cardiovascular disease later in life. This study examined how soon after pregnancy these heart attacks and strokes manifest, and the magnitude of risk in different age groups.

Doctor checking blood pressure of a pregnant woman who may have hypertension or pre-eclampsia
Credit: Peter Cade/Getty Images

(Inside Precision Medince) – Women who experience pre-eclampsia have a higher risk of heart attack and stroke than their peers within just seven years after delivery. Their risk remains elevated more than 20 years later. This finding came from a study of more than one million pregnant women published this week in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.

“The high risk of cardiovascular disease after pre-eclampsia manifests at young ages and early after delivery,” said study author Sara Hallum of the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. “This indicates that interventions to prevent heart attacks and strokes in affected women cannot wait until middle age when they become eligible for conventional cardiovascular screening programs.”

Pre-eclampsia affects up to eight percent of pregnancies worldwide. It features high blood pressure and protein in the urine, which develop after 20 weeks of pregnancy or soon after delivery. Symptoms include severe headache, stomach pain, and nausea. Work is ongoing to determine how best to predict the condition so it can be better managed.

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