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J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2011 Feb;20(2):287-93. doi: 10.1089/jwh.2010.2097. Epub 2011 Jan 25.

The association of adverse pregnancy events and cardiovascular disease in women 50 years of age and older.

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  • 1University of Kentucky, College of Public Health, Lexington, Kentucky, USA.



This study investigates the association between a prior history of pregnancy complications and cardiovascular disease (CVD) among Kentucky women aged ā‰„50 years.


Data were analyzed from participants (nā€‰=ā€‰3909) in the Kentucky Women's Health Registry (2006-2008). Primary outcomes were self-reported prevalence of CVD, including angina, heart attack, heart failure, and arrhythmia. Pregnancy complications used as predictors were preterm labor, preeclampsia, gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM), and third trimester bleeding. Logistic regression analyses were conducted to determine associations between prevalence of CVD and pregnancy complications, controlling for age, education, and smoking status.


Overall, 199 (5.1%) women reported angina, 79 (2.0%) reported heart attack, 44 (1.1%) reported heart failure, and 642 (16.4%) reported arrhythmia. One pregnancy complication was reported by 614 (15.7%) women, and two or more complications were reported by 130 (3.3%) women. In regression models adjusting for age, education, and smoking, compared to women who were never pregnant, women with no pregnancy complications had a similar risk of reporting heart attack (odds ratio [OR] 1.2, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.5-2.7), but women with one pregnancy complication (OR 2.5, 95% CI 1.03-6.0) and two or more complications (OR 4.2, 95% CI 1.4-10.6) had an increased risk. Similar results were seen for angina and arrhythmia, but not heart failure.


Women who experience pregnancy complications are more likely to report prevalent CVD (including angina, heart attack, and arrhythmia), suggesting a link between adverse pregnancy events and CVD. Pregnancy complications may serve as signals for future CVD, presenting an opportunity for early intervention and prevention.

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