Preeclampsia and future cardiovascular disease in women: How good are the data and how can we manage our patients?

Research paper by Ellen W EW Seely, Eleni E Tsigas, Janet W JW Rich-Edwards

Indexed on: 29 Jun '15Published on: 29 Jun '15Published in: Seminars in Perinatology


Women with a history of preeclampsia have double the risk of future heart disease and stroke, and elevated risks of hypertension and diabetes. The American Heart Association (AHA) and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology now include preeclampsia as a risk factor for future cardiovascular disease (CVD) with the recommendation of obtaining a history of preeclampsia and improving lifestyle behaviors for women with such a history. Research has progressed from asking whether preeclampsia is associated with CVD to how preeclampsia is associated with CVD, and the implications for prevention of CVD among women with a history of preeclampsia. A history of preeclampsia "unmasks" future CVD risk; research is inconclusive whether it also causes vascular damage that leads to CVD. For women with prior preeclampsia, the AHA recommends CVD risk reduction actions similar to those for other "at risk" groups: cessation of cigarette smoking, physical activity, weight reduction if overweight or obese and counseling to follow a "DASH" like diet. The efficacy of these lifestyle modifications to lower risk of CVD in women with prior preeclampsia remains to be determined. Barriers exist to implementing lifestyle improvement measures in this population, including lack of awareness of both patients and clinicians of this link between preeclampsia and CVD. We review patient, provider, and systems level barriers and solutions to leverage this information to prevent CVD among women with a history of preeclampsia.