Pre-eclampsia linked to rise in heart disease risk

Pre-eclampsia may permanently alter women’s blood vessels, leaving them with an increased lifetime risk of heart disease, according to new research by Pennsylvania State University, US.

The researchers compared women who had healthy pregnancies with those that experienced pre-eclampsia, which is when blood vessels around the uterus constrict during pregnancy and result in high blood pressure, kidney damage, swelling and headaches.

It was found that after a pregnancy, the blood vessels of women who experienced pre-eclampsia function differently than women who had healthy pregnancies. This could explain why women who have suffered from the condition during pregnancy go on to have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.

Anna Stanhewicz, a post-doctoral fellow in the College of Health and Human Development at Penn State, said: “We were able to show that even though the symptoms of pre-eclampsia go away once the woman gives birth, there's still an underlying dysfunction in the blood vessels.”

She went on to say that this is indicative of something happening during a pre-eclamptic pregnancy that permanently changes the way a woman’s blood vessels function.Image removed.