Washington: Turns out, the risk of having a heart attack while pregnant, giving birth or in the two months after delivery, continues to increase for women.
A study led by NYU School of medicine researchers found that the risk of suffering a heart attack among pregnant women rose 25 percent from 2002 to 2014 in America.
One possible reason for this, as suggested by the researchers, is the trend among many women to have children later in life, as heart attack risk rises with growing age (especially during pregnancy). Obesity and Diabetes are the key risk factors for heart attack.
Another factor that may explain the rising number is that myocardial infarcts, the technical name for heart attacks, are easier to detect now, than a decade ago, as the tests for early protein markers of related heart cell damage have improved and have become more widely available.
“Our analysis, the largest review in a decade, serves as an important reminder of how stressful pregnancy can be on the female body and heart, causing a lot of physiological changes, and potentially unmasking risk factors that can lead to heart attack,” says study senior investigator and interventional cardiologist Sripal Bangalore, MD, MHA.
As part of the study, researchers examined 49,829,753 births recorded in hospitals in USA and found that 1,061 heart attacks happened during labor and delivery. About 922 women were hospitalized for myocardial infarcts before birth and 2,390 heart attacks occurred during the post birth recovery period.
An associate professor in the Department of Medicine at NYU Langone Health, says although the absolute number of heart attacks and deaths from them remain low, the persistence of the relatively high death rate comes despite the advances in treating heart attacks with drug coated stents and an improved usage of blood-thinning medications to prevent any Heart-vessel blockage.
“Our findings highlight the importance to women considering pregnancy to know their risk factors for heart disease beforehand,” says study first author and interventional cardiologist Nathaniel Smilowitz, MD, an assistant professor at NYU Langone. “These patients should work out a plan with their physicians to monitor and control risk factors during pregnancy so that they can minimize their risk,” he added.
The study also claimed that the risk of having a heart attack during pregnancy rises as a woman gets older. A pregnant woman between the ages of 35 to 39 is five times more likely to suffer than women who get pregnant in their 20s.
Women in their early 40s are 10 times more at risk of having a heart attack, than women in their 20s. The study also says that fewer women get pregnant after the age of 45.
Data for the study was extracted from the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s National Inpatient Survey, for which 2014 was the last full year of data available at the time of the analysis.
Rates for myocardial infarction were found to have increased from 7.1 for every 100,000 pregancies in 2002 to 9.5 in 2014.
The full findings are present in the Journal- Mayo Clinic Proceedings (ANI)