Oct. 17 (UPI) -- Researchers have found that a history of gestational diabetes is associated with a higher long-term risk of developing cardiovascular disease in women.
The study, published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine, found that adhering to a healthy lifestyle over time could lower the risk of cardiovascular disease in women who had gestational diabetes in pregnancy.
Gestational diabetes, a condition of impaired glucose tolerance in pregnancy, has been identified as a risk factor for cardiovascular disease in women by the American Heart Association. The association is based on previous research linking gestational diabetes and markers for cardiometabolic risk.
For the study, researchers examined a history of gestational diabetes in nearly 90,000 women of childbearing years who participated in the Nurses Health Study 2, finding that 5.9 percent, or about 5,300 participants, had gestational diabetes.
Researchers found new primary cardiovascular disease events happened in 1,161 childbearing women during the 26 years of follow-up including 612 heart attacks and 553 strokes.
The study reveals a modestly higher risk for cardiovascular disease among women with a history of gestational diabetes than those who did not experience the condition, researchers report.
The researchers note the overall risk for cardiovascular disease among the mostly white women in the study was low, and that adhering to a healthier lifestyle -- including healthy diet, physical exercise and not smoking -- mitigates risk for the condition.
Although the study reveals an elevated risk for cardiovascular disease for some women, the researchers said future data with continuous follow-ups are necessary to find more fully evaluate the long-term effects of gestational diabetes.