Vitality

Women Giving Birth After 40 Face Greater Risk Of Heart Attack, Stroke Later In Life: Study

pregnancy
Women who give birth after the age of 40 are more likely to suffer from a stroke or have a heart attack later in life, study finds. Pixabay

Late pregnancy is associated with certain health risks, which may now include heart attack and stroke, according to new research presented at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference 2016 in Las Vegas.

The study, led by researchers at the Zeenat Qureshi Stroke Institute in Minnesota, found that women who gave birth after age 40 were at greater risk of heart attack and stroke later in life. "We already knew that older women were more likely than younger women to experience health problems during their pregnancy," said lead researcher Adnan Qureshi, according to The Guardian. "Now, we know that the consequences of that later pregnancy stretch years into the future."

Researchers collected and analyzed data collected from 72,000 women aged 50 to 79 enrolled in the U.S. Women's Health Initiative Study for 12 years. The study is a "long-term study focused on strategies for preventing heart disease, breast and colorectal cancer, as well as osteoporotic practices in postmenopausal women," per the website.

Of the cohort, 3,300 became pregnant after the age of 40. Heart attack risk rose slightly for women who became pregnant after 40, from 2.5 to 3 percent. And nearly 4 percent of older mothers eventually had strokes compared to just 2.4 percent of women who conceived at a younger age. The study also found that older mothers had a 3.9 percent risk of cardiovascular death compared to 2.3 percent who got pregnant at an earlier age.

Previous studies have linked getting pregnant after the age of 35 with an increased risk of developing gestational diabetes and high blood pressure. Some studies have even suggested that women over the age of 40 were 145 percent more likely to have a child with autism spectrum disorder than their younger counterparts. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more women are choosing to delay pregnancy until they are well into their 40s.

"Women with a late pregnancy need to be aware of their increased risk and take steps to improve their cardiovascular health," said Qureshi. "Their doctors also need to remain vigilant years later in monitoring these women’s risk factors through physical examination and, perhaps more tests and earlier interventions to prevent stroke and other cardiovascular events."

Source: International Stroke Conference. 2016.

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