MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Jennifer J. Stuart, ScD
Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Reproductive & Cardiovascular Epidemiology
Department of Epidemiology
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Division of Women’s Health
Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: Preeclampsia and gestational hypertension are common pregnancy complications involving high blood pressure that develops for the first time during pregnancy and returns to normal after delivery. Approximately 10 to 15% of all women who have given birth have a history of either preeclampsia or gestational hypertension. Previous studies have shown that women with a history of high blood pressure in pregnancy are more likely to develop cardiovascular disease events like heart attack and stroke later in life when compared to women with normal blood pressure in pregnancy. However, what is less clear is to what extent these women are more likely to develop chronic hypertension, diabetes, and high cholesterol and when these risk factors begin to emerge after pregnancy.
We examined this question in a cohort of nearly 60,000 American women who we were able to follow for up to 50 years after their first pregnancy. Previous studies have been limited by small numbers, short follow-up, or a lack of information on shared risk factors, such as pre-pregnancy body mass index, smoking, and family history. This research was conducted within the Nurses’ Health Study II, which collected data on these pre-pregnancy factors in tens of thousands of women over several decades.