Women who had common blood pressure problems like preeclampsia and
gestational hypertension during their first pregnancy had 12 to 25
times higher odds of having elevated blood pressure in the first
year after delivery than women who had normal blood pressure during
pregnancy, researchers report in The BMJ.
Over the first decade after delivery, women with high blood pressure
during pregnancy had 10 times higher chances of developing chronic
hypertension, the study also found.
“We already knew that women who had had preeclampsia or gestational
hypertension during pregnancy had an increased risk of developing
chronic hypertension later in life, but the conventional wisdom was
that `later in life’ was years or decades postpartum,” said senior
study author Dr. Heather Boyd of the Statens Serum Institut in
“We looked year by year, starting right after pregnancy, and found
that the risk of chronic hypertension is increased right from the
start,” Boyd said by email.
Boyd and colleagues examined data on more than 1 million women who
had babies or stillbirths in Denmark from 1978 to 2012.
They found the increased risk of chronic hypertension after a high
blood pressure disorder during pregnancy got larger for older
For women who had first pregnancies in their 20s, 14 percent who
developed high blood pressure while pregnant had chronic
hypertension during the first decade after delivery, compared with 4
percent of their peers with normal blood pressure during pregnancy.
Among women who had first pregnancies in their 40s, 32 percent of
those who had high blood pressure during pregnancy got hypertension
over the next decade, compared with 11 percent of women who had
normal blood pressure during pregnancy.
The study wasn’t a controlled experiment designed to prove how or if
pregnancy conditions like preeclampsia or gestational hypertension
cause high blood pressure later in life.
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Even so, the results suggest that even young women who develop high
blood pressure during pregnancy should be monitored for symptoms of
heart disease long before they reach middle age, when hypertension
becomes more common, Boyd said.
A separate U.S. study in The BMJ examined data on more than 5,500
women with a history of high blood pressure during pregnancy and
found that obesity may influence their odds of developing chronic
high blood pressure after delivery.
“Women are generally advised to keep a healthy weight before and
throughout pregnancy,” said lead study author Dr. Simon Timpka of
Lund University Diabetes Center in Malmo, Sweden.
“In order to reduce the risk of post-pregnancy hypertension, it
appears especially important for women with a history of
hypertensive disorders of pregnancy to keep a healthy weight,”
Timpka said by email.
Avoiding chronic high blood pressure after preeclampsia or
gestational hypertension, however, isn’t all about diet and
exercise, said Dr. Leonie Callaway, author of an accompanying
editorial and professor at the University of Queensland Centre for
“It is also about work-life balance, contentment, spirituality,
engagement in nature, social connections, family connections, etc.,”
Callaway said by email. “Take a diagnosis of hypertension in
pregnancy as a special gift - a warning that you are a special
person and you really need to take care of yourself.”
SOURCE: http://bit.ly/2twXFUJ, http://bit.ly/2vrXmbp and http://bit.ly/2tO5NLV
The BMJ, online July 12, 2017.
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