Mothers are at higher risk for heart disease and stroke

Mothers are at higher risk for heart disease and stroke

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Having children increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases and stroke

A scientific study has shown that having children significantly increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke in women. The study authors recommend keeping weight gain under control during pregnancy and then maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Unhealthy lifestyle as a risk factor

Every year more than a quarter of a million people in Germany suffer a stroke and around 280,000 Germans have a heart attack. It has long been known that factors such as high blood pressure, obesity, lack of exercise, smoking and high alcohol consumption increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. Researchers have now found that the risk of the two diseases is also higher in women who have children.

Permanent effects on the cardiovascular system

According to a study by researchers from the Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan (China), women who have children are 14 percent more likely to develop heart disease and stroke compared to childless women.

"The mechanisms underlying the observed associations are complex," says study author Dr. Dongming Wang, according to a communication from the European Society of Cardiology (ESC).

"Pregnancy can cause inflammation in the body and the accumulation of fat in the abdominal area, in the blood and in the arteries," said the researcher.

"These changes can have a lasting impact on the cardiovascular system, which increases the risk of heart and stroke later in life."

The study results were published in the "European Journal of Preventive Cardiology", a journal of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC).

The heart is more stressed during pregnancy

It is known that the heart is stressed more during pregnancy because it has to ensure the care of the mother and fetus.

However, as the ESC release states, the effects of pregnancy on the development of later heart disease are controversial.

The authors gathered data from around the world to perform a meta-analysis.

Ten studies were included, involving 3,089,929 women, 150,512 of whom had heart disease or stroke.

The risk increases with the number of births

The overall analysis showed a significant correlation between having children and the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Women who gave birth to children were 14 percent more likely to develop heart disease or stroke than childless women.

When the researchers associated the risk with the number of births, each birth was associated with a four percent higher risk - regardless of factors such as the Body Mass Index (BMI), diabetes, high blood pressure, smoking and income levels.

Similar relationships have been observed for different types of cardiovascular diseases, with each live birth being associated with a five or three percent higher risk of coronary heart disease or stroke.

Women can do a lot to reduce the risk

"Women should know that children increase their risk of future heart diseases or strokes and that more pregnancies can further increase this risk," explained Dr. Wang.

"The good news is that women can do a lot to prevent cardiovascular disease," said the study author.

"Pregnancy is a good time to get rid of bad lifestyle habits," said Dr. Wang.

“So stop smoking, exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet and keep weight gain under control,” says the scientist.

"Maintain these post-pregnancy habits, exercise more to reduce belly fat, and pay attention to the fat content of your diet to keep blood lipids healthy." (Ad)

Author and source information

Video: Heart Disease Prevention: The Impact of Diet and Exercise on Heart Health; By David Maron, MD (July 2022).


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