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Women who suffer pre-eclampsia while pregnant are at a higher risk of having a fatal heart attack

Women with pre-eclampsia have a higher risk of heart attack and stroke than their peers within seven years after birth, and the hazards persist for more than 20 years.

Pre-eclampsia affects up to 8% of all pregnancies around the world. High blood pressure and protein in the urine are medical indications that appear after 20 weeks of pregnancy or shortly after birth.

Heart Disease Risk After Pre-eclampsia During Pregnancy

Severe headaches, stomach discomfort, and nausea are among the symptoms. “Women may mistake these for ‘normal’ pregnancy symptoms and thus not seek medical help until the condition becomes severe,” said Dr. Hallum, Study Author, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

“Most cases are mild, but pre-eclampsia may lead to serious complications for the mother and baby if not treated in time,” he added.

It is generally known that pre-eclampsia predisposes women to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease later in life. This was the first study to look at how soon after pregnancy heart attacks and strokes occur, as well as the degree of risk in various age groups.

Between 1978 and 2017, national registers were used to identify all pregnant women in Denmark. Women were divided into two groups: those who had one or more pregnancies complicated by pre-eclampsia and those who did not.

Participants were free of cardiovascular illness prior to pregnancy and were monitored for heart attacks and stroke for a maximum of 39 years. Women with pre-eclampsia were four times more likely to have a heart attack and three times more likely to have a stroke within 10 years of giving birth than those who did not have pre-eclampsia.

More than 20 years after giving birth, the risk of heart attack or stroke was still twice as high in the pre-eclampsia group as in unaffected women.

When the researchers looked at the risk of cardiovascular disease based on age, they discovered that women between the ages of 30 and 39 who had a history of pre-eclampsia had five- and three-fold higher rates of heart attack and stroke, respectively, than those of similar age who had no history of pre-eclampsia.

The increased risk of cardiovascular disease in individuals with a history of pre-eclampsia is maintained throughout adulthood, with women over 50 years old being at twice the risk of their peers without a history of pregnancy complications.

Read more: Breast cancer: Significance of breast density as a risk factor often neglected by women

What Are The Symptoms?

Women with pre-eclampsia have a higher risk of heart attack and stroke than their peers within seven years after birth, and the hazards persist for more than 20 years.

Pre-eclampsia is a disorder that affects pregnant women after the 20-week mark or immediately after their baby is born. Early warning indicators include elevated blood pressure (hypertension) and protein in the urine (proteinuria).

Mild pre-eclampsia affects up to 6% of pregnancies, while severe instances develop in up to 2%. The precise cause of the condition is unknown at this time, but it is thought to arise when there is a problem with the placenta.

There are also various risk factors for getting the illness, such as having a family history of it, being over 40, or expecting multiple infants. Pre-eclampsia symptoms, according to the NHS, include:

  • foot, ankle, face, and hand swelling
  • excruciating headache
  • vision issues
  • discomfort slightly behind the ribcage

However, because many people do not notice the symptoms of pre-eclampsia, it is usually detected at normal antenatal appointments.

Read more: Antibiotic shortages: European Union’s drug regulator urged to do more to tackle crisis

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