A new study of first-time pregnant women found risk factors for heart disease, such as obesity and elevated blood sugar, can put expectant moms at higher risk for pregnancy complications and gestational diabetes and also lead to increased chances of high blood pressure, or hypertension, two to seven years after giving birth. The findings, which appear in the Journal of the American Heart Association, may assist doctors working with patients to adopt heart-healthy lifestyles or to avoid pregnancy problems, such as preeclampsia or premature birth. Severe pregnancy complications affect more than 50,000 women in the United States each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“What we know about high blood pressure is that the earlier you have it, the worse your outcomes for heart disease can be,” said Victoria Pemberton, a study author, nurse, and researcher in the Division of Cardiovascular Sciences at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), part of the National Institutes of Health. “If we can change that course and intervene earlier, such as after a woman has an adverse pregnancy outcome, then we’re doing her a great service.”
Researchers created the nuMoM2b Heart Health Study