AHA names six pregnancy complications that may put you at risk for later heart disease

The American Heart Association (AHA) has issued a statement regarding pregnancy complications and their impact on a woman’s future risks. These include those that increase the likelihood of developing cardiovascular diseases (CVD).

Pregnancy-related complications—hypertension, gestational diabetes, preterm birth, low-for-gestational-age (small-for-gestational age), pregnancy loss, and placental abruption—increase a woman’s risk of developing CVD later in life. This is stated in a scientific statement from the AHA published in the journal Circulation.

The document explains the level of risk associated with various complications during pregnancy. Thus, high blood pressure, or gestational hypertension, increases the risk of future CVD by 67%, and stroke by 83%.

Gestational diabetes is said to increase the risk of developing CVD by 68%, and the risk of type 2 diabetes increases tenfold after pregnancy. Preterm birth and stillbirth double the risk of CVD, and placental abruption increases it by 82%.

The statement states that lactation and breastfeeding may reduce the risks of later cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, including type 2 diabetes. For some patients, it may be appropriate to consider preventive medications.

Experts also suggested options for improving the process of patients transitioning to regular medical care. In particular, they recommend longer follow-up after pregnancy and screening for CVD factors, and the exchange of medical data between obstetricians-gynecologists and general practitioners.

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