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Obstet Gynecol. 2003 Dec;102(6):1366-71.

Family history of hypertension, heart disease, and stroke among women who develop hypertension in pregnancy.

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University of Pittsburgh Graduate Scool of Public Health, and Magee-Womens Research Institute, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15261, USA.



To assess familial cardiovascular risk factors in women developing hypertension in pregnancy.


Of 2211 women delivering live births after enrollment in a pregnancy cohort study, 85 (3.8%) developed preeclampsia (antepartum systolic blood pressure greater than 140 or diastolic blood pressure greater than 90 plus proteinuria) and 142 (6.4%) developed transient hypertension of pregnancy (antepartum blood pressure elevation without proteinuria). At a mean of 10.2 weeks' gestation, women were asked about first-degree family members with heart disease or stroke, hypertension, diabetes, renal disease, or any of these, which defined familial cardiovascular risk.


After adjustment for age and body size, having two or more family members, versus no family members, with cardiovascular risk imparted a 1.9-fold (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.1, 3.2) elevated risk for developing preeclampsia and a 1.7-fold (95% CI 1.1, 2.6) risk for developing transient hypertension of pregnancy. Having two or more family members with hypertension also imparted a significant, two-fold elevation in risk of preeclampsia and transient hypertension of pregnancy, and having two or more family members with heart disease or stroke imparted a 3.2-fold (95% CI 1.4, 7.7) elevation in the risk for preeclampsia.


A strong family history of aggregate cardiovascular risk increased the likelihood for developing preeclampsia and transient hypertension of pregnancy. These findings support the theory that a preexisting tendency to cardiovascular risk, and particularly hypertension, increases a women's susceptibility to developing hypertension in pregnancy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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