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Preeclampsia Ups Heart Disease, Death

More Heart Disease After High-Blood-Pressure Pregnancy Syndrome

Pregnancy as Stress Test continued...

"Some women fail this cardiovascular and metabolic stress test which is revealing their future, telling them things about themselves they would know," Magee says. "Having preeclampsia increases your risk of long-term problems -- but it gives you the opportunity early in life to prevent those problems."

Williams and colleagues are now trying to learn exactly what it is about preeclampsia that might add to a woman's risk of heart disease. They are also hoping to learn whether aggressive treatment after -- perhaps with cholesterol-lowering statin drugs or blood-pressure-lowering drugs -- might help lower this risk.

For now, both Williams and Magee agree that lifestyle changes -- not drug treatments -- are the best options for women who've had preeclampsia.

"All women should be following a heart-healthy diet and lifestyle. But it is particularly important for these women," Magee says. "Having a baby turns your life upside down anyway, so if you're making changes, why not make all the right changes?"

The Williams/Bellamy study and Magee's editorial appear in the Nov. 2 online edition of the British Medical Journal.

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