LONDON, Nov. 7 (UPI) -- A University College London study has added weight to the theory that pre-eclampsia and cardiovascular diseases might share common causes.
Pre-eclampsia is an abnormal condition of pregnancy causing high blood pressure in the mother and threatening the baby's well-being. It affects about 5 percent of all first-time pregnancies, with delivery of the baby being the only cure.
Lead researcher David Williams and colleagues analyzed studies involving more than 3 million women and calculated the health risks of those who had a pregnancy affected by pre-eclampsia.
The researchers found women who have had pre-eclampsia are at a four-fold increased risk of developing chronic hypertension and a two-fold risk of heart disease, stroke and venous thromboemolism (blood clots) in later life. No linkage was found with any cancer, suggesting a specific relationship between pre-eclampsia and cardiovascular disease.
"Women who have had pre-eclampsia should be aware of this risk so that they can make lifestyle adjustments -- such as keeping fit, losing weight, stopping smoking, monitoring and controlling their blood pressure and cholesterol as necessary -- at a relatively young age to help lower their risk of heart disease," said Williams.
The study appears in the British Medical Journal.