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Gaining Weight While Pregnant Can Raise Your Risk of Heart Disease

  • A new study from the University of Pittsburgh has revealed that pregnant women with excessive gestational weight gain had a higher cardiovascular risk later in life

In the United States, heart disease is the leading cause of death. The phrase “heart disease” refers to a variety of heart conditions. The most prevalent kind of heart disease in the United States is coronary artery disease, which can lead to a heart attack.

High blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and smoking are among the factors that can increase your risk for heart disease. Recent research has also revealed that excessive weight gain while pregnant could also raise your risk.

According to a new study published recently in the peer-reviewed Journal of Women’s Health, pregnant women with significant gestational weight gain had a greater cardiovascular risk profile in midlife.

Franya Hutchins, Ph.D., of the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, and colleagues used two main measures to determine a woman’s cardiovascular disease risk: the atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) risk score and a measure of C-reactive protein (CRP), an inflammatory biomarker. The researchers assessed these factors at baseline and at 10 follow-up visits during a 20-year period.

Having a history of excessive gestational weight gain was associated with a 29.6% higher ASCVD risk score at baseline. “In the model including confounders and midlife abdominal obesity, excessive gestational weight gain remained associated with a 9.1% higher ASCVD score,” stated the investigators. Excessive gestational weight gain was associated with an 89.2% higher baseline CRP level. With the addition of cofounders and midlife abdominal obesity, excessive gestational weight gain remained associated with a 31.5% higher mean CRP.

“In this group of women, a history of excessive gestational weight gain was associated with a small but statistically significant higher ASCVD score and a moderate, statistically significant higher mean CRP level into midlife,” says Journal of Women’s Health Editor-in-Chief Susan G. Kornstein, MD, Executive Director of the Virginia Commonwealth University Institute for Women’s Health, Richmond, VA.

Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Institutes of Health under Award Numbers U01NR004061, U01AG012505, U01AG012535, U01AG02531, U01AG012539, U01AG012546, U01AG012553. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Reference: “Excessive Gestational Weight Gain and Long-Term Maternal Cardiovascular Risk Profile: The Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation” by Franya Hutchins, Samar R. El Khoudary, Janet Catov, Robert Krafty, Alicia Colvin, Emma Barinas-Mitchell and Maria M. Brooks, 18 April 2022, Journal of Women’s Health.
DOI: 10.1089/jwh.2021.0449

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