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Perspectives

Pre-eclampsia and the risk of cardiovascular disease

Annemarie Hennessy, Angela Makris

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Abstract

Hypertension in pregnancy (including pre-eclampsia and eclampsia) occurs in 10% of pregnancies in Australia. Although pre-eclampsia was largely thought to be a reversible condition, evidence is mounting that it and other hypertensive diseases of pregnancy are potential risk factors for coronary artery disease, stroke and hypertension later in the woman’s life. Significantly, identification of early cardiovascular risk factors has the potential to target this population for intervention and thereby prevent future morbidity and mortality in these women.

Key Points

  • There is a clear link between endothelial dysfunction that manifests as pre-eclampsia and subsequent maternal cardiovascular disease (CVD).
  • Identification of early cardiovascular (CV) risk factors in pregnant women enables intervention and thereby prevention of future CV morbidity and mortality.
  • Babies who have suffered in utero growth restriction from pre-eclampsia and other causes have higher rates of later development of CVD, hypertension and diabetes.

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