Complications in pregnancy may lead to long-term health risks  

Complications in pregnancy may lead to long-term health risks  

Complications during pregnancy may be a red flag for heart conditions later on, according to recent studies.

Researchers have determined underlying heart conditions to be the cause of certain complications such as abruption (when the placenta separates too early from the wall of the uterus), premature births or the birth of a growth-restricted baby.

In a Canadian study, women with these pregnancy complications were screened for heart disease six to 12 months after giving birth. Fifty percent of the women who experienced these complications were found to be at high risk of developing cardiovascular disease and/or met the criteria for the diagnosis of metabolic syndrome, which is a precursor to heart disease.

These common pregnancy complications share many risk factors and features with heart disease, such as inflammation, hyperlipidemia and abnormalities of the lining of blood vessels, including fat deposition and injury. The stress that the body goes through during pregnancy reveals propensities for diseases like heart disease and they manifest in the form of complications during pregnancy.

Dr. Barbara Parilla, medical director of maternal-fetal medicine at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital and Advocate Children’s Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill., identifies these complications as “markers,” and uses them as opportunities to look into a woman’s future to see what chronic diseases may lie ahead.

“It’s important to note that not all women with these complications will develop heart disease, and these factors are modifiable,” Dr. Parilla says. “Chronic diseases like heart disease take decades to develop, but continuing to live an unhealthy lifestyle in the years following delivery will likely lead to the development of heart disease.”

If a pregnancy was affected by one of the markers, Dr. Parilla recommends seeing a primary care physician to gain a better understanding of the risk factors.

Risks are assessed by simple tests, which include blood pressure assessment, morphometrics (measuring height and weight) and a metabolic profile.

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About the Author

Mickey Ramirez
Mickey Ramirez

Mickey Ramirez, health enews contributor, is the director of Advocate Health Care's media center. He claims to not be a writer…but occasionally he learns information that is just too important to keep to himself. He enjoys kimchi, honesty and a room with a view. When he grows up, he wants to be Anthony Bourdain.

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