Preeclampsia and long-term risk of cardiovascular disease: what do obstetrician-gynecologists know?

BMC Pregnancy Childbirth. 2013 Mar 9;13:61. doi: 10.1186/1471-2393-13-61.


Background: Preeclampsia (PE), a hypertensive disorder of pregnancy affects 2-8% of women and is associated with increased cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk later in life. There is little information about the knowledge of obstetrician-gynecologists in German outpatient care setting regarding the future health risk of PE and knowledge of the current guidelines on treatment and counseling patients post PE. This study aimed to assess whether obstetrician-gynecologists are aware of PE's association with maternal long-term adverse outcomes and providing appropriate counseling.

Methods: A random sample of 500 obstetrician-gynecologists in the federal state of Lower Saxony was mailed a survey and a reminder with a second copy of the survey. The questionnaire elicited both personal information, and knowledge on future disease risks, e.g. cardiovascular disease (CVD) and current guidelines as well as on counseling practice. Descriptive analysis was used to analyze the responses.

Results: A total of 212 obstetrician-gynecologists (42.4%) responded to the questionnaire. A large proportion of physicians stated that PE was associated with a higher risk for the development for hypertension (86.6%), stroke (78.5%) and kidney disease (78.0%). Of the participants 75.8% reported that women after PE have a shorter life expectancy. Respondents with knowledge of the current guidelines of the German Association of Obstetrics and Gynecology concerning follow up and risk management of PE (45.2%) were more often aware of the development of CVD and stroke and counseled patients on self -blood-pressure measurement, meaning and long-term-risks of PE and attached importance to family history of PE compared to physicians with no knowledge of the guidelines.

Conclusion: Although the majority of obstetrician-gynecologists were aware of higher CVD risk after PE, weaknesses exist in the follow up care and counseling of these patients. These deficiencies would be amendable to directed educational activities to improve the implementation of current guidelines.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology*
  • Clinical Competence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Directive Counseling / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Germany
  • Gynecology / standards*
  • Gynecology / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Obstetrics / standards*
  • Obstetrics / statistics & numerical data
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'
  • Pre-Eclampsia / physiopathology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Cardiovascular / physiopathology*
  • Risk
  • Surveys and Questionnaires