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Smart Woman: Pregnancy and Cardiovascular Disease

New research shows women who have complications during pregnancy should watch their heart health later.
"I was diagnosed with high blood pressure, pre-eclampsia toward the very end," said Laura Davidson.

Davidson had a C-section at 37 weeks because doctors were concerned about how her condition could affect her and the baby.

Davidson said, "It was very scary because everything is out of your hands and everything you can do can cause a spike in the blood pressure."

Now a new study finds the complications Davidson developed during her pregnancy could be a predictor of her risk for cardiovascular disease in the future.

Dr. Jacques Moritz of Roosevelt Hospital said, "If you've had a medical complication, specifically pre-eclampsia which is high blood pressure in pregnancy or diabetes it may mean that you will develop problems later on in life."

British researchers looked at 3,400 women with pregnancy complications. They found pre-eclampsia was associated with a 31 percent increased risk for heart disease and diabetes during pregnancy carried a 26 percent increased risk.

Researchers hope their results will push women to make lifestyle changes to reduce their risk, and to see their doctors regularly.

"View what happened in pregnancy as kind of a dip stick that you know that you're at higher risk and you may be able to prevent it," said Moritz.

That's how Davidson is looking at it. She's planning to eat right and exercise to keep her heart healthy.

"It just makes me think very carefully about the decisions I have to make for my own health so that I can be around for him," said Davidson.

Gestational diabetes affects about 18 percent of pregnancies, while high blood pressure. Pre-eclampsia happens in about 3 percent of all pregnancies.
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