Aug, 2021 - By WMR
A study conducted by a team of researchers from Feinberg School of medicine, Northwestern University, U.S. reveals a strong connection between women’s heart health and pregnancy outcomes.
The researchers considered around 18 million pregnancies and interpreted data collected from the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) for their study. They studied mainly four risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease in women prior to pregnancy. These factors are smoking, hypertension, diabetes, and unhealthy body weight. The researchers observed that presence of cardiovascular risk factors such as unhealthy body weight and hypertension prior to pregnancy led to poor outcomes for both mother and the child. The researchers found that the maternal intensive care unit admission, low birth weight, preterm birth, and foetal death are associated with the number of pre-pregnancy cardiovascular risk factors. The researchers divided women in a grade scale of 0, 1, 2, 3, or 4 on the basis of cardiovascular risk factors. The researchers found over 60% women with one or more cardiovascular risk factors prior to pregnancy. The researchers found 53% women with 1 risk factor, 7% with 2 risk factors, 0.3% and 0.02% with 3 and 4 risk factors respectively. Importantly, the researchers found that women with all four risk factors had approximately six times higher risk for ICU admission, 3 times higher risk for low birth weight, 4 times higher risk for pre-term birth, and 9 times higher risk for foetal death in comparison to women with no pre-pregnancy risk factors. The researchers also studied those women with complicated first pregnancy, who had higher chances of complications in their subsequent complications. They also explained that levels of unhealthy body weight and hypertension are increasing and there are indications that women are developing cardiovascular risk factors at an early age.
The researchers stressed on prioritizing heart health before pregnancy. The findings argue for more focus towards promoting women’s health.