November 17, 2005

Pregnancy problem linked to heart disease risk

LONDON (Reuters) - Women who suffer certain complications
during pregnancy are more likely to develop premature
cardiovascular disease, according to a study published on

Scientists at the University of Toronto in Canada said
expectant mothers with maternal placental syndrome, which
includes pre-eclampsia or high blood pressure during pregnancy,
had double the risk of developing early cardiovascular disease.

The odds increased further if their infant's growth was
restricted or if the baby died in the womb.

"The risk of premature cardiovascular disease is higher
after a maternal placental syndrome, especially when the fetus
is adversely affected," said Dr Joel Ray, a lead researcher of
the study published in The Lancet medical journal.

He advised women to have their blood pressure measured six
months after the birth to see if it is at a normal level.

High blood pressure, obesity, raised cholesterol levels,
smoking and insulin resistance are risk factors for
cardiovascular disease, a leading cause of death in developed

"We believe the maternal placental syndrome should be
considered as an additional risk factor for cardiovascular
disease," Ray added.

The scientists assessed the link between placenta problems
in pregnancy and heart disease in a study of more than 1
million healthy women in Canada. About 75,000 were diagnosed
with maternal placental syndrome, which include conditions in
which blood vessels in the placenta become blocked, during
their pregnancy.

The women's medical history was followed for an average 9
years following the birth.

"With a pandemic of obesity in our midst, including a more
than doubling of the number of obese women at antenatal
booking, we should try to ensure that women are a healthy
weight before they enter their reproductive years," Ray added.