Physicians' knowledge of future vascular disease in women with preeclampsia

Hypertens Pregnancy. 2012;31(1):50-8. doi: 10.3109/10641955.2010.544955. Epub 2011 Feb 18.


Objective: Preeclampsia, a hypertensive disorder of pregnancy, affects 5-8% of women. Large studies demonstrate a strong association between preeclampsia and future cardiovascular disease (CVD). Despite CVD being the leading cause of mortality for women, there has been little education for internal medicine physicians or obstetrician-gynecologists (ob-gyns) about this association; published guidelines do not include preeclampsia as a risk factor for future CVD. Therefore, women with a history of preeclampsia may not receive adequate risk-reduction counseling for CVD. It is unclear whether primary care physicians are aware of the association; thus, we sought to determine whether primary care providers at our institution were aware of preeclampsia's association with future CVD and whether they were providing appropriate counseling.

Methods: An anonymous online survey was sent to all internists and (ob-gyns) at our hospital.

Results: Although most internists (95%) and (ob-gyns) (70%) provide routine cardiovascular risk-reduction counseling, a substantial proportion of them were unaware of any health risk associated with a history of preeclampsia. Many internists were unsure or did not know whether preeclampsia is associated with ischemic heart disease (56%), stroke (48%), and decreased life expectancy (79%). The corresponding proportions for (ob-gyns) were 23, 38, and 77%, respectively. Only 9% of internists and 38% of obstetrician-gynecologists were providing cardiovascular risk-reduction counseling to women with a history of preeclampsia.

Conclusion: There is limited knowledge of the association between preeclampsia and future CVD; this deficiency may limit the application of this risk factor to clinical care.

MeSH terms

  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Clinical Competence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Gynecology / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Internal Medicine / statistics & numerical data
  • Obstetrics / statistics & numerical data
  • Pre-Eclampsia / epidemiology*
  • Pregnancy