In the study involving 400 Ontario women, the researchers found underlying cardiovascular risk factors of elevated blood pressure and lipids (fats) at a rate that was two to three times greater than the control group.
"This should be on every obstetrician's and family doctor's radar screen," said Queen's University professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Graeme Smith.
"What's exciting for our research team is that we're mostly dealing with young, healthy women who now have the opportunity to protect themselves from developing a life-threatening condition years down the road," he added.
The researchers don't think that pre-eclampsia causes these symptoms, however. "They probably pre-dated pregnancy and were the background upon which pre-eclampsia developed," said Dr. Smith.
He suggests that pre-eclampsia is the earliest marker of potential future cardiovascular risk.
The findings are published online in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.