Hypertensive pregnancy increases a woman’s risk of early death

Image depicting the various factors contributing to cardiac remodeling.
Credit: Journal of the American College of Cardiology

High blood pressure, an all-too-common feature of pregnancy, appears to carry risks for a woman’s cardiovascular health months or years after giving birth, and even shorten her life span. That’s the key finding of an NHLBI-funded study in published in theJournal of the American College of Cardiology 

The researchers found that pregnant women who experienced either gestational hypertension or preeclampsia, known as hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, have a greater risk of premature death from cardiovascular disease, which includes heart disease and stroke. This was the case even if the women did not develop chronic hypertension.  

The study was based on data from more than 88,000 women who had at least one pregnancy and participate in the Nurses’ Health Study II. During 28 years of follow-up, 2,387 died prematurely – any death before age 70 – including 212 from cardiovascular diseases. The researchers found that having had gestational hypertension or preeclampsia was associated with a 42% increase in premature mortality. 

Prior NHLBI-funded research has shown that cardiovascular risk factors may lead to pregnancy related problems for first-time mothers, which raises chances of hypertension years after childbirth.