Metabolic syndrome - a combination of traits and symptoms such as
abdominal fat and high blood sugar - is a strong predictor of heart
disease and diabetes. So blood pressure at the high end of normal in
pregnancy could be an early warning sign, according to the study
“The optimal blood pressure levels in pregnant women remain an open
question,” said lead author Dr. Jian-Min Niu of Guangdong Women and
Children Hospital in Guangzhou.
In general, healthy blood pressure usually falls at or below 120/80
mmHg, Niu said. The threshold for high blood pressure, or
hypertension, is 140/90 or greater. The range between “healthy” and
“high” blood pressure is sometimes called prehypertension because
readings at the high end of normal may be a stage on the way to
“In many countries, every pregnant woman has at least 10 routine
(prenatal) checkups,” Niu told Reuters Health by email. “However,
they will not be informed of risk unless the blood pressure level is
at or greater than 140/90 mmHg.”
The researchers studied 506 pregnant women with no history of high
blood pressure or symptoms of diabetes, measuring their blood
pressure, weight and other health metrics several times during
pregnancy and for up to a year and a half after they gave birth.
For about one third of the women, blood pressure remained in the
low-normal range throughout pregnancy. Half the women remained in
the mid-normal range and 13 percent developed high-normal blood
Of the 309 women who completed all the follow-up tests, 35 developed
metabolic syndrome, that is, at least three of the following: waist
circumference of 35 inches or greater, elevated triglycerides, low
levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, blood pressure
of 135/85 or higher and elevated blood sugar.
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Women with high-normal blood pressure in the last months of
pregnancy were more than six times as likely as those in the
low-normal group to develop metabolic syndrome, according to the
results in the journal Hypertension.
“I would expect that this pattern also predicts other related
factors such as cardiovascular outcomes and events,” said Pal R.
Romundstad, of the Public Health and General Practice department at
the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, who
was not part of the study.
Maintaining a healthy weight before and during pregnancy can help
reduce the risk of prehypertension or metabolic syndrome, Niu said.
“Postpartum follow-up is very important, because pregnancy is a
‘stress test’ that may unmask predisposition to future
cardiovascular diseases,” Niu said. “Based on our study, those who
have prehypertension should be monitored with caution after delivery
SOURCE: http://bit.ly/296FEPc Hypertension, online June 27, 2016.
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