Under pressure
Moms who develop high blood pressure during pregnancy are at a greater risk of heart disease later on.
Women who had an increase in blood pressure during pregnancy are likely to develop heart disease at an earlier age than women who maintained normal blood pressure while they were pregnant, Chilean researchers report.

Dr. Gloria Valdes of Pontificia Universidad Catolica, Santiago and colleagues studied 217 women with an average age of about 61 years, who underwent a coronary artery examination about 30 years after their last pregnancy.

As reported in the medical journal Hypertension, 146 women had had normal blood pressure during their pregnancies while 71 women had hypertension during at least one pregnancy.

About half of all the participants were found to have significant coronary artery disease. Valdes told Reuters Health that women with hypertensive pregnancies developed significant narrowing in their coronary arteries about three years sooner than women with normal blood pressure during pregnancy.

Furthermore, during 10 years of follow-up, there was a significantly greater increase in the number of clogged arteries in the hypertensive group (28 percent) than in the normal blood pressure group (22 percent).

"Gestational hypertension represents a positive stress test for future cardiovascular risk, which should prompt early management of cardiovascular risks," Valdes commented.

She added, "Obstetricians need to identify women with a family history of premature cardiovascular disease, as this doubles the risk of a hypertensive pregnancy."

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