Risks of Heart Attack During Pregnancy

By Ashley | February 3, 2010
Pregnancy And Heart Attack

In recent years, doctors have noticed a unique phenomenon – there has been a rise in heart attacks in young pregnant women. This goes against the commonly held belief that younger women don’t suffer from heart attacks, and has led to a rise in research, to determine if pregnancy can cause a heart attack.

Causes or Risks of Heart Attack in Pregnant Women

Not all women, or even a majority of pregnant women are at risk from a stroke or heart attack. Research has shown that certain tendencies could lead to a heart attack during pregnancy:

  • One reason which may account for the increase in the number of women who are getting heart attacks during pregnancy is that these women became pregnant at a much later age. Most of these women were around 32 years, and some were even older.
  • High blood pressure or hypertension during pregnancy could also put the woman in danger of heart disease.
  • Obesity is another factor which could cause heart disease during pregnancy. Obesity could lead to hypertension and enhance the risk of a heart attack.
  • Diabetes is another factor which could raise the chances of a heart attack in a young pregnant woman.
  • Pregnant women with a high cholesterol level are also in the risk group.
  • Excessive smoking or intake of alcohol during pregnancy could also lead to high blood pressure and heart disease.
  • Family history is another cause. Pregnant women who had a heart attack were found to have inherited the tendency.
  • Stress, or rather the inability to handle stress is another factor leading to a heart attack in a pregnant women.

By and large, healthy women who were not obese, and led healthy, happy and active lives, controlled their intake of tobacco and alcohol, exercised normally, ate food that was rich in fiber and low in fats, were not at risk.

However, researchers also warned that doctors should not dismiss symptoms such as chest pain in a pregnant woman. The doctor needs to consider that it could be a heart attack.

What research is showing however is that women who had high blood pressure during pregnancy ran a greater chance of having a heart attack or stroke later in life, after the age of 40. This negates the belief that hypertension during pregnancy is a temporary problem with no adverse effects on health conditions in later life. The hypertension suffered during pregnancy often induces long term blood vessel and metabolic abnormalities, which may affect them later, after the age of 40, or after menopause. This would put them at an elevated risk of a heart attack.

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