A recent study published in the February issue of the British Medical Journal has reported that women who had had a miscarriage were more at risk of heart disease later in life than those who had not. 129,290 women, who delivered their first live infant in Scotland during the years 1981-85, were identified as eligible for the study. Nearly 12,000 had suffered a miscarriage or repeated miscarriages. Then, during 1981 to 1999, the researchers used hospital discharge and death data to determine the risk of death or hospital admission due to heart disease. Researchers found that those who had had miscarriages were 1.4 times more likely to have heart disease later than women who had not. Moreover, those with repeated miscarriages were at even higher risk of heart disease -- women who had three or more were at more than double the risk of women who didn't have one.
An expert lauded the study and said that the study made sense biologically because many of the medical conditions that predispose people to have miscarriage can also predispose them to have heart disease. Among those conditions, he adds, are kidney disease and a predisposition to blood clots.
Study author Dr. Gordon C. S. Smith, a professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Cambridge University said that certain antibodies are associated with miscarriage as well as the risk of heart disease. However, it is not likely that the link is explained by the fact that these women already had heart disease at the time of their miscarriages. He added that family history studies have shown that there are genes which predispose toward heart disease and there are also other acquired factors which can predispose toward heart disease. The interpretation of the study, according to the researchers, is that these same factors may also determine pregnancy complications.
The study however, need not alarm women, because, according to experts, the study though done on a large number of patients, is only superficial as many potential variables were not sufficiently controlled. So, the results are not yet conclusive.