High blood pressure in pregnancy is a clear warning sign for preeclampsia. Also known as hypertension, high blood pressure has also been associated with birth defects and long-term side effects on maternal health independent of preeclampsia. Researchers from the National Institutes of Health have now suggested chronic disease risk is another possible issue women will deal with as they grow older. The study was published in the journal Circulation.

A cohort study completed in Northern Finland in 1966 provided basic data for the study. Researchers then tapped into Finnish registries to find medical data on more than 10,000 women who participated in the cohort. Women with high blood pressure in pregnancy, even those who did not suffer from preeclampsia or eclampsia, were more apt to suffer from chronic diseases as they aged. Researchers noted an increased risk of heart failure, myocardial infarction, death from myocardial infarction, diabetes and ischemic heart disease in women with gestational hypertension.

Conclusion: Women suffering hypertension during pregnancy need to be carefully monitored for chronic health conditions and disease throughout life. Evaluation of risk factors and early detection/intervention could be life-saving.

Source: Männistö T, Mendola P, Vääräsmäki M, Järvelin MR, Hartikainen AL, Pouta A, Suvanto E. Elevated blood pressure in pregnancy and subsequent chronic disease risk. Circulation. 2013 Feb 12;127(6):681-90. doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.112.128751.