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High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy Linked to Future Heart Disease, Diabetes

Update Date: Feb 12, 2013 05:55 AM EST

High blood pressure detected during pregnancy can serve as a warning for future development of severe health complications like heart disease, diabetes and kidney disease, according to a new study.

Although, earlier studies have found that pregnant women who have high blood pressure and high levels of proteins in the urine- a condition called Preeclampsia, have high risk of health complications, the new study shows that even in healthy pregnant women, a rise in blood pressure can be a sign of future disease risk.

"All of the later life risks were similar in pregnant women who could otherwise be considered low-risk - those who were young, normal weight, non-smokers, with no diabetes during pregnancy," said Tuija Männistö, M.D., lead author of the study.

The present study included women from Finland who had given birth in 1966. Researchers compared the risk of health complication in the women who had high blood pressure during pregnancy with that of women who had no such rise in blood pressure.

Study results showed that at least a third of all pregnant women in the study had one high blood pressure measurement at the time of pregnancy.

High blood pressure in these women was linked to 14 percent to 100 percent increase in the risk of heart disease later in life. Also, these women were two to five times more likely to die from heart attacks.

Pregnant women with high blood pressure had a 1.4- to 2.2-fold higher risk of having diabetes in the future, the study reported. Women with transient blood pressure-meaning when the blood pressure returns to normal after a temporary high- also had a 1.9- to 2.8-fold higher risk of kidney disease later in life.

"According to our findings, women who have had high blood pressure during pregnancy or who are diagnosed with high blood pressure in pregnancy for the first time might benefit from comprehensive heart disease risk factor checks by their physicians, to decrease their long-term risk of heart diseases," Männistö said in a news release.

Note that the study included women who were Caucasian, so researchers can't say if women belonging to other racial backgrounds will have same kind of risks.

The study is published in the journal Circulation.                             

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