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Heart risk link to pre-eclampsia

2nd November 2007

New evidence has emerged of a link between the pregnancy disorder pre-eclampsia and heart disease.

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Women are being warned about the link after two studies were published in the British Medical Journal, with one suggesting they share a common origin.

Experts say woman who have pre-eclampsia should take precautions to protect themselves from heart disease, particularly after researchers from London’s Institute for Women’s Health found women who have pre-eclampsia were twice as likely to develop heart disease.

Pre-eclampsia affects about 5% of all first-time pregnancies and is a condition where abnormally high blood pressure and other disturbances develop in the second half of pregnancy.

The Institute for Women's Health analysed 25 studies involving over three million women to calculate the future health risks of women who have had a pregnancy affected by pre-eclampsia.

It found women with a history of pre-eclampsia were four times more likely to suffer from high blood pressure and twice as likely to develop heart disease, stroke, and blood clots in later life. But they found no increase in risk of any cancer.

Lead researcher David Williams said: “A history of pre-eclampsia should be considered in the evaluation of women's risk of cardiovascular disease.?

The second study, of 3,494 women by a team at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, recorded blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels, weight, and body mass index before pregnancy. Of this group, 33 women ended up with pre-eclampsia.

The researchers suggest that pre-eclampsia and cardiovascular diseases may share a common origin.

 

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