Background: Pre-eclampsia is associated with an increased risk of development of cardiovascular disease later in life. It is not known how general practitioners in the Netherlands care for these women after delivery with respect to cardiovascular risk factor management.
Methods: Review of medical records of 1196 women in four primary health care centres, who were registered from January 2000 until July 2007 with an International Classification of Primary Care (ICPC) code indicating pregnancy. Records were searched for indicators of pre-eclampsia. Of those who experienced pre-eclampsia and of a random sample of 150 women who did not, the following information on cardiovascular risk factor management after pregnancy was extracted from the records: frequency and timing of blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose measurements--and vascular diagnoses. Additionally the sensitivity and specificity of ICPC coding for pre-eclampsia were determined.
Results: 35 women experienced pre-eclampsia. Blood pressure was more often checked after pregnancy in these women than in controls (57.1% vs. 12.0%, p<0.001). In 50% of the cases blood pressure was measured within 3 months after delivery with no further follow-up visit. A check for glucose and cholesterol levels was rare, and equally frequent in PE and control women. 20% of the previously normotensive women in the PE group had hypertension at one or more occasions after three months post partum versus none in the control group. The ICPC coding for pre-eclampsia showed a sensitivity of 51.4% and a specificity of 100.0%.
Conclusion: Despite the evidence of increased risk of future cardiovascular disease in women with a history of pre-eclampsia, follow-up of these women is insufficient and undeveloped in primary care in the Netherlands.