Women who experience pregnancy complications may be at increased risk of dying from cardiovascular disease later in life, a new study finds.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the number one killer of American women, and men.
Researchers analyzed data from 15,528 pregnant women in the Oakland, Calif., metropolitan area from 1959 to 1967. As of 2011, 368 women (average age 66) had died of CVD.
The study confirmed several pregnancy complications associated with CVD from other studies, including pre-eclampsia (a condition that includes sudden high blood pressure), pre-term delivery and small-for-gestational-age delivery).
In addition, the study found the two new conditions that significantly raised the likelihood of heart disease-related death later on: Glycosuria, or high levels of sugar in the urine, and hemoglobin decline, a measure of the red blood cells' ability to carry oxygen throughout the body.
"Pregnancy is really a stress test for the cardiovascular system," said Barbara A. Cohn, author of the study, which is published in the journal Circulation.
"These risk factors, which are in the patient's health record, should lead doctors to discuss with these women ways to reduce their risk of heart attack and other cardiovascular diseases,” she added.
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