Pregnancy and labour create significant strain to the mother’s body. Her heart, kidneys and liver undergo major changes in order to cope with the increasing demands of the baby and the placenta. The fitter the mother before pregnancy, the less complicated the pregnancy will be. Similarly, pregnancy acts as a screening test for those mothers who may develop heart, kidney or liver problems later in their lives. Mothers who develop hypertension during their pregnancy, have an almost 4-times higher risk of developing high blood pressure 14 years postnatally, and 2-times higher risk to develop ischaemic heart disease, stroke or a blood clot. Similarly, mums who develop gestational diabetes mellitus have 14-fold increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes and a 3-fold increased risk of developing hypertension/stroke and myocardial infarction within 11 years of delivery. Therefore, optimising mum’s health and making lifestyle changes before pregnancy may lead to better pregnancy outcomes. In addition, pregnancy complications should lead to long-term follow-up to exclude the development of cardiovascular complications.
Reference: Rahim MN, Williamson C, Kametas NA, Heneghan MA. Using pregnancy to assess risk and predict women’s health. EClinicalMedicine. 2020 Mar 1;20.