Mothers of prem babies at risk of heart disease death

Friday, 02 February, 2018

Mothers of prem babies at risk of heart disease death

Women who have given birth prematurely have double the risk of dying from coronary heart disease later in life than women who give birth at full term. 

Premature birth (delivery before 37 gestational weeks) affects 10% of all pregnancies, and is linked to poor health in premature babies. However, the study found that there are also long-term implications for the mother’s health, showing that women who give birth before 37 gestational weeks are 1.4–1.6 times more likely to experience cardiovascular disease, stroke and coronary heart disease than mothers who give birth at full term (39 weeks), and also have double the risk of death caused by coronary heart disease. 

Researchers analysed 21 studies and over five million women, with the findings published in the Journal of the American Heart Association

Conducted by researchers from Keele University’s Research Institute for Primary Care and Health Sciences, together with colleagues at the University Hospital of North Midlands Trust (UHNM), the University of Arizona and the University of Leicester, the study promotes the importance of cardiovascular risk assessments in women who give birth prematurely, in order to identify high-risk individuals. These individuals can be targeted to reduce the risk of future cardiovascular events by encouraging a healthy lifestyle and behavioural changes, and prescribing drug therapies which will help reduce their risks. 

“Doctors need to be aware that women who have had premature births are at higher risk of cardiovascular disease, and should be considering obstetric history during a woman’s cardiovascular risk assessment,” said lead author Dr Pensee Wu of Keele University. “I hope this work will raise awareness amongst hospitals and primary care doctors of the lifestyle advice that they can give women who have had a preterm birth in the past.

"We are conducting further research to understand the causes of increased cardiovascular risk in women who have premature births.”

Image credit: © Lasevich

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