Pre-eclampsia, or high blood pressure during pregnancy, affects many women. While the condition is usually well-monitored during pregnancy, doctors are now urging us to be aware of its ongoing and potentially fatal risks, so we keep in good heart health.
Twice the risk of heart attack or stroke
It’s an alarming statistic to swallow, but doctors want to alert women who have suffered from the condition during pregnancy that they double their risk of having serious heart issues, such as a heart attack or stroke long after their babies are born.
What’s more, heart attacks alone kill 22 Australian women each day.
A common but serious condition
Lots of women are monitored for pre-eclampsia during pregnancy. In fact, as many as one in 10 mums-to-be are said to suffer from it, which adds up to 30,000 pregnant Australian women annually.
“Post-pregnancy women who have had pre-eclampsia have a 2-4 times increased risk of having high blood pressure in life, twice the risk of stroke or heart attack, and 1.5 times the risk of death,” cardiologist Dr Clare Arnott from Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, told ABC.net.au.
“Even more concerningly, we’re finding the disease occurs prematurely, up to a decade earlier.”
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Julie Anne Mitchell from the Heart Foundation said Australia’s healthcare professionals were excellent at handling pre-eclampsia and high blood pressure during pregnancy.
“But we are concerned the care often stops there for the mothers, when a focus on maintaining good heart health and regular check-ups over the coming years is essential for long-term health and well being,” she said.
Get regular checks
The good news is that by treating pre-eclampsia as a lifelong condition, and not something that just occurs during pregnancy, women can lower their risks of suffering from serious heart problems down the track.
This includes having regular checks such as cholesterol and blood pressure monitoring.
The Heart Foundation is also working with GPs to ensure more doctors offer women who have had pre-eclampsia regular heart checks.
If you have suffered from the condition in pregnancy, please chat to your GP about setting up some regular heart monitoring.
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