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Women With 4 or More Live Births More Likely to Show Early Signs of Heart Disease

Update Date: Mar 29, 2014 04:01 PM EDT

Women who give birth to four or more children are more likely to develop signs of plaque in their heart, according to a new study. 

Earlier studies have shown an association between several aspects of pregnancy while this study aims to determine whether the number of live births is associated with early signs of cardiovascular disease. 

"This is not a recommendation for women to only have two or three children," said Monika Sanghavi, M.D., chief cardiology fellow, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, and lead investigator of the study in the press release.

"Our findings add to the growing body of evidence that the changes associated with pregnancy may provide insight into a woman's future cardiovascular risk and deserves further attention."

The study considered 1,644 women as subjects from the Dallas Heart Study which is a multiethnic population-based cohort. 

"Pregnancy has been called 'nature's stress test,' and for good reason," Sanghavi said. "It may also help identify women who are at increased risk [for heart disease], even though right now they may not have any risk factors."

Interestingly, women with zero or just one live birth were also more likely to show evidence of subclinical atherosclerosis, revealing a U-shaped relationship, read the press release. 

"The benefit of pregnancy is that it occurs relatively early in a woman's life and allows for early intervention for those at higher risk," she added in the press release. 

The research will be presented at the American College of Cardiology's 63rd Annual Scientific Session.

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