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High blood pressure in pregnancy increases risk of developing cardiovascular disease in later life

Women who have high blood pressure (hypertension) during pregnancy have an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease in later life, concludes a study in this week's BMJ.

The study involved three groups of women, selected from the Aberdeen maternity databank, and who were living in Aberdeen during their first pregnancy in the years 1951 to 1970. One group had been diagnosed with pre-eclampsia or eclampsia during their pregnancy, the second had been diagnosed with high blood pressure, and the third group had no history of raised blood pressure.

The women were asked to complete a questionnaire and were invited to attend for a medical examination.

Women who experienced raised blood pressure in pregnancy had a long-term risk of hypertension, an increased risk of stroke and, to a lesser extent, an increased risk of ischaemic heart disease. Long-term cardiovascular risks were greatest for women with pre-eclampsia.

If greater awareness of this association leads to earlier diagnosis and improved management, there may be scope for reducing a proportion of the illness and death from such diseases, conclude the authors.


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