Cardiovascular death in women who had hypertension in pregnancy: a case-control study

BJOG. 2005 Mar;112(3):286-92. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-0528.2004.00396.x.


Objective: To determine whether an association exists between hypertension in pregnancy and later development of cardiovascular disease.

Design: Case-control study of women who delivered with and without hypertensive complications during the same period.

Setting: University Hospital in Reykjavik, Iceland.

Population: Three hundred and twenty-five women with hypertension in pregnancy (blood pressure > or =140/90 mmHg after 20 weeks of gestation) in the years 1931-1947, graded by severity. For each case, two normotensive control women, delivering before or after the case and matched for parity and age were selected, giving a total of 629 women.

Methods: Causes of death were evaluated for the presence of ischaemic heart disease, cerebrovascular events and cancer, up until the end of 1996.

Main outcome measures: Survival curves, median survival times, risk of death by age group and severity of disease.

Results: Death with evidence of ischaemic heart disease was more common in cases (24.3%) than in control women (14.6%) (RR 1.66; 95% CI 1.27-2.17). Cerebrovascular event deaths occurred in 9.5% of cases and in 6.5% of controls (RR 1.46; 95% CI 0.94-2.28). Cancer death rates were not different (RR 1.22; 95% CI 0.91-1.63). Survival times were shorter on average by three to nine years as a consequence of cardiovascular disease. This varied by age group in the index pregnancy for women with a history of hypertension in pregnancy. The effect was smaller if the case pregnancy occurred at a young age. There was a linear trend with increasing severity of hypertensive disease in pregnancy in death rates from ischaemic heart disease (chi(2) (1)= 5.8, P= 0.02).

Conclusions: Long term follow up suggests an increased risk of death from ischaemic heart disease and cerebrovascular events among women who suffered hypertension in pregnancy.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Cerebrovascular Disorders / mortality*
  • Epidemiologic Methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension, Pregnancy-Induced / mortality*
  • Iceland / epidemiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Myocardial Ischemia / mortality*
  • Pregnancy