Sumary of Stronger Hearts, Better Outcomes in Pregnancy: Study:
- New research suggests that how healthy a woman’s heart is before conception affects outcomes in her pregnancy.
- Study author Dr. Sadiya Khan said the findings make a case for more comprehensive heart assessments prior to pregnancy rather than focusing on isolated individual risk factors, such as high blood pressure (“hypertension”) or body mass index (an estimate of body fat based on height and weight).
- “In reality not all pregnancies are planned, but ideally we would evaluate women well in advance of becoming pregnant so there is time to optimize their health,” said Khan, an assistant professor of cardiology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, in Chicago.
- The study, which included more than 18.6 million pregnancies, found a strong relationship between pregnancy outcomes and women’s heart health, including four risk factors for heart disease.
- Those risk factors are unhealthy body weight, smoking, high blood pressure and diabetes.
- Individual-level data was pooled from births to women aged 15 to 44 years from 2014 to 2018. More than 60% of women had one or more pre-pregnancy heart disease risk factor, with 52% having one and 7% having two, the investigators found.
- Compared to women with no risk factors, those with all four had about six times the risk for intensive care unit (ICU) admission, about four times the risk for preterm birth, almost three times the risk for low birth weight and almost nine times the risk for fetal death.