Rutgers research finds new information on high blood pressure during pregnancy

Preeclampsia affects approximately 2 to 8 percent of women globally, the study found.
Photo by PexelsPreeclampsia affects approximately 2 to 8 percent of women globally, the study found.

A Rutgers study published in the "Journal of Women’s Health" found women with high blood pressure during their first pregnancy are more likely to experience heart attacks or cardiovascular death, according to an article on Rutgers Today.

The condition, called preeclampsia, begins 20 weeks after pregnancy and affects approximately 2 to 8 percent of women globally. It also causes 15 percent of premature births, according to the article. Doctors do not know the cause of this condition, but it is associated with insufficiently formed placental blood vessels. 

The study reviewed women ages 18 to 54 who were diagnosed with preeclampsia and compared them to women without the condition. Women with the condition were four times more likely to have a heart attack or die from cardiovascular reasons. They were also two times as likely to die from other causes. 

“Women who were diagnosed with preeclampsia tended also to have a history of chronic high blood pressure, gestational diabetes and kidney disease and other medical conditions,” said lead author Mary Downes Gastrich, an associate professor at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and a member of the Cardiovascular Institute of New Jersey.

Gastrich said women should be screened for this condition during pregnancy and begin treatment five years after giving birth. 

Other Rutgers authors include Stavros Zinonos, Gloria Bachmann, Nora M. Cosgrove, Javier Cabrera, Jerry Q. Cheng and John B. Kostis.