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Link found between pregnancy and cardiovascular disease

Thursday 27th December 2018
Women who become mothers have an increased risk of heart disease or strokes, a major new study has confirmed.
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A link has been found between pregnancy and the chances of suffering heart disease and stroke, with women who become mothers up to 14 per cent more at risk. 

However, the study, carried out by researchers Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan, China, and published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, said only a small part of the increased risk was due to gestation itself.

The research, which was based on ten studies involving just over three million women, found 150,000 of them developed heart disease or suffered a stroke during an average follow up period, which ranged from six to 52 years in the different studies. 

Overall, giving birth increased the risk by four per cent, but this was increased further by the average mother due to wider health problems associated with pregnancy that were self-inflicted, due to poor diet and fitness before and after having a baby.  

Study author Dr Dongming Wang said: “Pregnancy may lead to inflammation in the body, and the accumulation of fat around the abdomen, in the blood, and in the arteries. These changes could have permanent effects on the cardiovascular system, leading to a higher risk of heart and stroke later in life.”
However, he noted: "The good news is that there is a lot that women can do to prevent cardiovascular disease,” noting that quitting smoking, eating more healthily, exercising more and limiting weight gain in pregnancy were all important ways of reducing health risks.” 

The study comes after much controversy has raged over the impact of pregnancy on cardiovascular health, although it has always been accepted that the heart of a pregnant mother will have to work harder. 

Evidently, however, mothers may find pregnancy can actually reduce the risks if they use this as a catalyst for adopting a healthier lifestyle, provided they maintain it in the longer run after having children. 
Written by Matthew Horton

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