Women who have had complicated pregnancies are more at risk of heart disease

A new article about heart disease affecting women after complicated pregnancies has been published in the journal PLOS ONE. According to the researchers, many of these women do not know thatthey are more likely to be exposed to heart disease.

A woman suffering from a heart attack

During pregnancy, major complications can occur. It can be high blood pressure, preeclampsia or gestational diabetes. This threat would be two or three times higher in affected women compared to women who had no complications.

A link between complicated pregnancies and heart disease

Researchers from the Robinson Research Institute (RRI) at the University of Adelaide and Flinders University have carried out detailed interviews with 26 pregnant women. Of these 26 women, 13 suffered from complications, while the other 13 had normal pregnancies. According to lead author Dr Prabha Andraweera, the aim was to find out whether women were aware of this risk.

These interviews revealed that most of them were unaware of the relationship between major pregnancy complications and the risk of heart disease. However, they wanted to know how to take care of their heart health during and after pregnancy. They also wanted to be screened for cardiovascular risk before returning home with their newborn.

They wanted to engage with professionals

According to Claire Roberts, a professor at Flinders University, women with gestational diabetes were more aware of the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. She thinks it’s thanks to the existence of the National Gestational Diabetes Registry. These women also receive the recommendation to perform regular blood sugar tests.

The study showed that women were willing to engage with postnatal health professionals to prevent heart disease future. Most would agree to follow up at a heart health center after giving birth. However, they would prefer a hospital centerbecause they used to make regular visits during their pregnancy.

Moreover, Margaret Arstall, co-author and director of the cardiology department at Lyell McEwin Hospital, set up a hospital service for women who experienced serious complications during pregnancy. These women can be tested and counseled six and 18 months after giving birth.


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