Pregnancy and the Heart: Is Your Heart at Risk?

Heart disease remains the number one killer of women in the United States. But did you know that complications in pregnancy can be contributing to your risk of heart disease?

The American College of Cardiology (ACC) published prevention guidelines in 2019 that identified specific conditions which are considered “risk enhancing factors.” This addition to the guidelines was included to help identify patients that are higher risk than the general population. Examples of risk enhancing factors include: family history of heart disease, chronic kidney disease, high risk ethnicities such as patients from a South Asian ancestry and chronic inflammatory conditions like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis or psoriasis.  They also included women with a history of pregnancy-associated conditions such as gestational hypertension, preeclampsia and eclampsia.

According to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG), women with gestational hypertension are two times more likely to develop heart disease. This risk is even higher in women with preeclampsia who are four to eight times more likely to have cardiac complications. That is why it is very important that women with these pregnancy conditions are aware of their risks and take an active role in their health. Prevention can be as easy as 1-2-3.

First, get established with a primary care physician, follow up with them for routine physicals, blood work and keep an eye on your cholesterol levels and HbA1c. Next, maintain a healthy diet of fresh fruits, grains, vegetables and avoid a sedentary lifestyle. Remember, just twenty five minutes of walking five times a week can significantly reduce your risk of heart disease.

Cindy John, MD FACC is a Board Certified Cardiologist with the OakBend Medical Group. Her office is located at 1601 Main Street, Suite 502, Richmond TX 77469. To make an appointment with Dr. John, call 281-633-4925.