A group of German researchers studied nearly 12,000 women and found that miscarriages and stillbirths carry a long-term side effect. Women who suffer from these pregnancy outcomes are more likely to have a heart attack later in life. At the head of the research team was Dr. Elham Kharazmi of the German Cancer Research Center. The December online edition of Heart published the research results.

It took about 11 years to compile and sort through the data for the study. Women in the study ranged in age from 35 to 66. The information was collected as part of the EPIC study in Germany. EPIC stands for European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition). The aim of the EPIC study was to collect information and link potential disease processes to diet and nutrition.

After compilation of data and adjustment for risk factors like smoking and weight, women who miscarried more than three times were at risk of a heart attack 5 times higher than their peers who had never suffered from a miscarriage. In addition, having just one stillbirth increased the risk of a heart attack around 2.5 times. Women who had experienced an abortion during pregnancy were not at increased risk of heart attack, the study found.

Though researchers admit there is a clear link between the spontaneous ends of pregnancy by the body, they have no idea why the link exists. "Recurrent miscarriage and stillbirth are strong sex-specific predictors for MI and thus should be considered as important indicators for cardiovascular risk factors monitoring and preventive measures," researchers offered. Additional studies are planned to look even closer at the increased risk

Source: Elham Kharazmi, Laure Dossus, Sabine Rohrmann, Rudolf Kaaks. Heart. 1 December, 2010.

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