New study highlights that giving birth may increase woman's risk of heart disease and stroke by 14 percent. The findings of the study are published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, a journal of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC).
Giving birth is associated with a 14 percent higher risk of heart disease and stroke compared to having no children, reports a study.
"The mechanisms underlying the associations we observed are complex," said study author Dr. Dongming Wang, of the School of Public Health, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China.
It's known that the heart works harder during pregnancy to meet the needs of the mother and fetus. But the impact of pregnancy on the development of subsequent heart disease is controversial. The authors compiled data from around the world to conduct a meta-analysis. Ten studies were included involving 3,089,929 women, of whom 150,512 developed heart disease or stroke during an average follow-up of 6 to 52 years.
The overall analysis identified a significant association between ever giving birth and the risk of cardiovascular disease. Women who had given birth had a 14 percent higher chance of developing heart disease or stroke than those who had never given birth.
When the researchers analyzed the association according to the number of births, there was evidence of a J-shaped relationship. Each birth was associated with a 4 percent higher likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease, regardless of body mass index, diabetes, hypertension, smoking, and income level. Similar relationships were observed for different types of cardiovascular disease, with each live birth being associated with 5 percent and 3 percent higher risks of coronary heart disease and stroke, respectively.
"Doctors have a role to play here," said Dr. Wang. "Women should know that having children may raise their chance of future heart disease or stroke, and that more pregnancies could be increasingly risky. The good news is that there is a lot that women can do to prevent cardiovascular disease."
"Pregnancy is a good time to get rid of bad lifestyle habits," said Dr. Wang. "So quit smoking, exercise regularly, eat healthy food, and keep weight gain under control. Keep these habits after pregnancy, get more exercise to reduce abdominal fat, and watch the fat content in your diet to keep blood lipids at a healthy level."