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Pregnancy problem linked to heart disease risk

Women who suffer certain complications during pregnancy are more likely to develop premature cardiovascular disease, according to a study published on Friday.
/ Source: Reuters

Women who suffer certain complications during pregnancy are more likely to develop premature cardiovascular disease, according to a study published on Friday.

Scientists at the University of Toronto in Canada said expectant mothers with maternal placental syndrome, which includes pre-eclampsia or high blood pressure during pregnancy, had double the risk of developing early cardiovascular disease.

The odds increased further if their infant's growth was restricted or if the baby died in the womb.

"The risk of premature cardiovascular disease is higher after a maternal placental syndrome, especially when the fetus is adversely affected," said Dr. Joel Ray, a lead researcher of the study published in The Lancet medical journal.

He advised women to have their blood pressure measured six months after the birth to see if it is at a normal level.

High blood pressure, obesity, raised cholesterol levels, smoking and insulin resistance are risk factors for cardiovascular disease, a leading cause of death in developed countries.

"We believe the maternal placental syndrome should be considered as an additional risk factor for cardiovascular disease," Ray added.

The scientists assessed the link between placenta problems in pregnancy and heart disease in a study of more than 1 million healthy women in Canada. About 75,000 were diagnosed with maternal placental syndrome, which include conditions in which blood vessels in the placenta become blocked, during their pregnancy.

The women's medical history was followed for an average 9 years following the birth.

"With a pandemic of obesity in our midst, including a more than doubling of the number of obese women at antenatal booking, we should try to ensure that women are a healthy weight before they enter their reproductive years," Ray added.