Pregnancy complications preeclampsia significantly increases a woman’s chances of developing heart disease later in life, warns The Heart Foundation.
Women who suffer from gestational hypertension or pre-eclampsia are significantly at greater risk of future heart disease and should have their heart health monitored post-pregnancy, urge experts.
The Heart Foundation says pregnancy is the ‘ultimate cardiac stress test’ and pre-eclampsia, in particular, provides a window into the future heart complications a woman may face in the next decade.
“Research is telling us that having preeclampsia in pregnancy increases the chance four-fold of a woman developing high blood pressure later in life and increases the risk of developing cardiovascular disease by two to three times,” said Julie Anne Mitchell, the foundation’s national spokeswoman on women’s heart health.
In Australia, 30,000 women each year will develop high blood pressure in pregnancy and 10,000 of these will have pre-eclampsia.
The potentially deadly pregnancy complication forces the heart to work much harder.
“It can be quite a risky journey for some women with underlying heart issues,” Ms Mitchell said.
With heart disease the number one killer of Australian women – claiming the life of one woman every hour of every day – the health issue will be discussed at the first Women and Heart Disease Forum in Sydney on Wednesday.