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    Risk: High Blood Pressure in Pregnancy

    Women With High Blood Pressure When Pregnant More Likely to Develop Heart Disease Later
    By
    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.

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