Heart disease can occur due to a variety of factors, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, diabetes, obesity, physical inactivity, poor diet, family history of heart disease, age (increasing risk as you get older), and gender (men have a higher risk than women, although women’s risk increases after menopause).
Having multiple risk factors increases the likelihood of developing heart disease, and it’s important to maintain a healthy lifestyle and seek regular check-ups to reduce the risk.
A new study published in the BMJ and that CNN writes about has found that five major pregnancy complications increase the risk of ischemic heart disease, with the highest risk occurring in the decade following delivery. Gestational diabetes and preeclampsia increase the risk by 54% and 30%, respectively. It was also found that other high blood pressure disorders during pregnancy double the risk. Delivering a baby before 37 weeks or delivering a baby with a low birth weight also increases the risk by 72% and 10%, respectively.
Dr. Garima Sharma explained, as CNN quotes:
There’s been a change in the birthing population. US women are getting pregnant at a later age, and they have already accrued maybe one or two cardiovascular risk factors. Perhaps there are other stressors in life – depression, stress, isolation, obesity – lots of different things that are impacting women in the US.
The study followed over 2 million women in Sweden and found that about a third of the women had to deal with at least one adverse pregnancy outcome, with those having multiple adverse outcomes showing further increased risk. The normal changes during pregnancy may uncover underlying health problems for some women with certain risk factors, leading to changes in the blood vessels and heart that persist or progress after delivery, increasing the risk for cardiovascular disease. The American Heart Association recommends taking a detailed history of pregnancy complications when assessing the heart disease risk of a woman, but this is not always done in clinical practice.