High blood pressure a pregnancy stroke risk

Women who have high-blood pressure during their pregnancies or a related and more severe condition called pre-eclampsia are at much higher risk of heart attacks and strokes than those who have normal blood pressure, according to new research.

Woman measuring blood pressure at home

By studying data from nearly 6.5 million women in English hospitals between 1997 and 2015, a team from the University of Cambridge and University of Bristol found more than 276,000 pregnancies affected by high blood pressure and 223,715 with pre-eclampsia.

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The sample size studied for 20 years allowed them to look for the risks of more than 15 different kinds of heart and circulatory diseases, from heart attack and stroke to heart failure and cardiomyopathy.

The team found the risk of developing a serious heart and circulatory condition increased by 45 per cent if a woman had high blood pressure during pregnancy or by nearly 70 per cent for women who had experienced pre-eclampsia. When considering first pregnancies, three in every 1,000 women who had normal blood pressure went on to develop heart and circulatory diseases after their pregnancy compared to five in every 1,000 for women who had high blood pressure.