Increasing evidence indicates that hypertension in pregnancy is an under-recognized risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD). Compared with women who have had normotensive pregnancies, those who are hypertensive during pregnancy are at greater risk of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular events and have a less favorable overall risk profile for CVD years after the affected pregnancies. One factor that might underlie this relationship is that hypertensive disorders of pregnancy (pre-eclampsia, in particular) and CVD share several common risk factors (e.g. obesity, diabetes mellitus and renal disease). Alternatively, hypertension in pregnancy could induce long-term metabolic and vascular abnormalities that might increase the overall risk of CVD later in life. In both cases, evidence regarding risk-reduction interventions specific to women who have had hypertensive pregnancies is lacking. While awaiting results of large-scale studies, hypertensive disorders of pregnancy should be screened for during assessment of a woman's overall risk profile for CVD. Women at high risk must be monitored closely for conventional risk factors that are common to both CVD and hypertensive disorders of pregnancy and treated according to current evidence-based national guidelines.
- Cardiovascular disease
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