Recent research suggests that women who develop complications with the placenta during pregnancy appear to also have an elevated risk for later cardiovascular problems .
The study, published in the current issue of The Lancet, found that a woman's risk of premature cardiovascular disease doubled when she had one of several disorders involving the placenta, including pre-eclampsia, gestational high blood pressure and separation of the placenta from the uterine wall.
Maternal placental syndromes include preeclampsia (high blood pressure during pregnancy) and conditions where the placental blood vessels become blocked. These include placental abruption and placental infarction, where the placenta becomes detached from the wall of the uterus.
The researchers analyzed the health records of more than one million women after the birth of their first child between 1990 and 2004, using a database compiled by the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences. None of the women had been diagnosed with cardiovascular disease before pregnancy.
The researchers compared the health outcomes of women who had placenta problems with women who didn't.
Risk factors for placental syndromes include obesity, insulin resistance, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. These same conditions are also independent risk factors for cardiovascular disease. This study suggests that obesity may help trigger pregnancy complications and later cardiovascular woes.