An Early Predictor of Heart Disease

Increased risk seen for women who have hypertension, diabetes during pregnancy

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MONDAY, June 16, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- Women who have pregnancy-related high blood pressure or diabetes may develop heart disease risk factors as soon as two years after giving birth.

University of Pittsburgh researchers presented that disturbing finding June 14 at the 63rd Scientific Sessions of the American Diabetes Association in New Orleans.

The study points out the importance of monitoring pregnant women for diabetes, preeclampsia and hypertension. These conditions can leave the women with insulin resistance or continued high blood pressure after they deliver their baby, putting them at greater risk for cardiovascular disease.

The study included women who were one to three years post-delivery. There were 36 women who had preeclampsia while pregnant, 33 women with high blood pressure while pregnant, 24 who had diabetes while pregnant, and 31 control subjects.

The women with preeclampsia or gestational diabetes had a fourfold to sixfold chance of being insulin-resistant one to three years after delivery, the study found.

Those with gestational diabetes had higher glucose post-delivery than the women in the control group and were 12.5 percent more likely to have high blood pressure after delivery. Women who had preeclampsia or high blood pressure during pregnancy were 25 percent more likely than the control group to have high blood pressure after delivery.

"Diabetes, preeclampsia and high blood pressure during pregnancy should be viewed as potential markers for an increase in heart disease risk factors after delivery. Pregnant women who have one or more of these conditions, and women who have had them while they were pregnant, should modify their lifestyles to reduce risk," study co-investigator Dr. Trevor Orchard says in a news release.

"Stop smoking and drinking; exercise; eat more fruit, vegetables and whole grains; cut back on fatty foods. These are simple steps than can greatly improve health and reduce risk of heart disease," Orchard says.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about high blood pressure during pregnancy.

SOURCE: University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, news release, June 14, 2003
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