REVIEW – June 2015

Pregnancy complications as risk factors for future cardiovascular disease and diabetes

Authors: Ele Hanson

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The focus of this article is on the raising of awareness of two pregnancy complications – preeclampsia and gestational diabetes – that might have an impact on women’s health not only during pregnancy but also as risk factors of chronic diseases later in life. Although the diagnosis and treatment of these complications are provided by gynaecologists, follow-up of the risk group after pregnancy involves other specialists who should be aware of these risks.

According to the current research, women with a history of preeclampsia have almost a fourfold increased risk for cardiovascular disease and a twofold increased risk for diabetes later in life (3, 7). Gestational diabetes increases the risk of diabetes later in life approximately seven times and the risk of cardiovascular disease is increased two times (4).

Currently, there are no guidelines on how to prevent cardiovascular disease in women with previous pre-eclampsia or gestational diabetes. However, an increase in the awareness of preeclampsia and gestational diabetes as risk factors for future cardiovascular disease and diabetes can help women make healthier lifestyle choices that might have long-term benefits (20).