Pre-eclampsia linked to heart disease

Mothers-to-be who suffer pre-eclampsia have a higher risk of heart disease in later life, new research has suggested.

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Women with a history of the condition, which affects up to one in ten births, were twice as likely to develop heart disease or suffer a stroke in later life, the study showed.

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Pre-eclampsia is a serious condition where abnormally high blood pressure and other problems develop in the second half of pregnancy. It can be fatal to both mother and baby.

Two studies were published in the British Medical Journal. In the first, researchers analysed 25 studies to calculate the health risks of women who have had pre-eclampsia. In addition to heart disease, they were also four times as likely to have high blood pressure.

The risks increase further as the women got older, the study found. Researcher Dr David Williams, from University College London, said: “Affected women should be eligible for preventive therapies at an earlier age than usual.”

The second study found women with high blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels before pregnancy were seven times more likely to suffer pre-eclampsia.

Women who have pre-eclampsia should take precautions to protect themselves from heart disease, experts said.

British Heart Foundation cardiac care nurse Cathy Ross said: “The results make it clear that women who have had pre-eclampsia need to be aware of their increased risk and take action to reduce it.”

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She added this included “stopping smoking, being physically active and reducing the salt content in your diet”.

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