Women with a history of pre-eclampsia are at a higher risk for developing atherosclerosis later in life, finds a new study by a research team at the Mayo Clinic. Pre-eclampsia is a condition that threatens the lives of pregnant women and the fetus. The findings are published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings.
‘Women who have had pre-eclampsia during pregnancies were at greater risk of atherosclerosis decades later during their postmenopausal years.’
“We’ve found that pre-eclampsia continues to follow mothers long after the birth of their child,” says Vesna Garovic, M.D., Ph.D., Mayo Clinic Division of Nephrology and Hypertension. “The good news is that we can use these findings to apply earlier interventions for risk factors before cardiovascular disease presents.”
Using health records from the Rochester Epidemiology Project – a collaboration of southern Minnesota and western Wisconsin health care facilities — the research team identified 40 postmenopausal women with histories of pre-eclampsia and 40 women with normotensive — or normal blood pressure – pregnancy histories.
Carotid artery intima-media thickness, or the thickness of the artery walls, was measured in addition to blood tests. The artery wall thickness of women with a history of pre-eclampsia was significantly greater than those with normotensive pregnancies. These findings were echoed in a study of 10 texts.
“Even without a history of cardiovascular events, women who’ve had pre-eclampsic pregnancies are facing a higher risk of atherosclerosis decades later during their postmenopausal years,” says Dr. Garovic. “This makes pre-eclampsia a pregnancy complication that extends well beyond the pregnancy itself.”
Further study is needed on women with pre-eclampsia histories, according to Dr. Garovic, and that should continue to follow women late into life, where further complications may become apparent.