Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Health & Pregnancy

Font Size

Risk: High Blood Pressure in Pregnancy

Women With High Blood Pressure When Pregnant More Likely to Develop Heart Disease Later
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Feb. 5, 2007 -- Women who develop even mild high blood pressure during pregnancy may be more likely to have heart disease later in life, according to a new study.

Doctors usually assume that developing high blood pressure during pregnancy has no long-term consequences and will merely go away once the baby is born.

The new study suggests this may not be true.

As a result, women who have high blood pressure while pregnant may require early intervention to protect their hearts.

"Our research and that of others may have important implications for the management of women who have high blood pressure in pregnancy," concludes study researcher Michiel L. Bots, MD, PhD, in a written statement. Bots is an associate professor of epidemiology at the Julius Center for Health Sciences and Primary Care in Utrecht, The Netherlands.

The study appears in the February issue of Hypertension: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Heart Disease Later

In the study of 491 postmenopausal women, almost 31% said they had high blood pressure when they were pregnant.

This information came from questionnaires given when the women were postmenopausal, with an average age of 67 years, so their recall may not have been 100% accurate.

The women underwent a test to measure the amount of calcium buildup in their coronary arteries. Calcium buildup in the heart arteries is a marker for heart disease risk from coronary artery disease.

Those women who said they had had high blood pressure during pregnancy were 57% more likely to have calcium buildup in their arteries than women who did not report high blood pressure during pregnancy, the study showed.

The findings held in women who had mild elevations in blood pressure as well as those who developed preeclampsia, a serious pregnancy complication marked by extremely high blood pressure and swelling and protein leakage in urine.

Predictive Value

More Follow-up Needed

"Women should be encouraged to follow up with their gynecologist yearly, [and] at their annual exam, their blood pressure and weight should be measured," Geeta Sharma, MD, tells WebMD.

"More follow-up will be dictated by their blood pressure and cholesterol levels at their annual exam," says Sharma, an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City. "Controllable risk factors, such as diet, weight loss and exercise should be addressed."

Unfortunately, Sharma says, "many women seek medical care only when pregnant and then do not find time for themselves as they prioritize the health of their family. It is very important that they continue seeing their doctor at least annually."

Pregnancy Week-By-Week Newsletter

Delivered right to your inbox, get pictures and facts on
what to expect each week of your pregnancy.

Today on WebMD

hand circling date on calendar
Track your most fertile days.
woman looking at ultrasound
Week-by-week pregnancy guide.
Pretty pregnant woman timing contaction pains
The signs to watch out for.
pregnant woman in hospital
Are there ways to do it naturally?
slideshow fetal development
pregnancy first trimester warning signs
What Causes Bipolar
Woman trying on dress in store
pregnant woman
Close up on eyes of baby breastfeeding
healthtool pregnancy calendar
eddleman prepare your body pregnancy