Recurrence of pre-eclampsia and the risk of future hypertension and cardiovascular disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis

BJOG. 2018 Dec;125(13):1642-1654. doi: 10.1111/1471-0528.15394. Epub 2018 Aug 10.


Background: Women with a history of hypertensive disorders, including pre-eclampsia, during pregnancy have a two- to-five-fold increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). In 15% of women, pre-eclampsia recurs in the following pregnancy.

Objectives: To evaluate all evidence on the future risk of developing hypertension and CVD after multiple pregnancies complicated by pre-eclampsia compared with pre-eclampsia in a single pregnancy followed by normal subsequent pregnancy.

Search strategy: Embase and Medline were searched until June 2017.

Selection criteria: All relevant studies on the risk of developing hypertension, atherosclerosis, ischaemic heart disease, cerebrovascular accident (CVA), thromboembolism, heart failure or overall hospitalisation and mortality due to CVD after having had recurrent pre-eclampsia.

Data collection and analysis: Twenty-two studies were included in the review. When possible, we calculated pooled risk ratios (RR) with 95% CI through random-effect analysis.

Main results: Recurrent pre-eclampsia was consistently associated with an increased pooled risk ratio of hypertension (RR 2.3; 95% CI 1.9-2.9), ischaemic heart disease (RR 2.4; 95% CI 2.2-2.7), heart failure (RR 2.9; 95% CI 2.3-3.7), CVA (RR 1.7; 95% CI 1.2-2.6) and hospitalisation due to CVD (RR 1.6; 95% CI 1.3-1.9) when compared with women with subsequent uncomplicated pregnancies. Other studies on thromboembolism, atherosclerosis and cardiovascular mortality found a positive effect, but data could not be pooled.

Conclusions: This systematic review and meta-analysis support consistent higher risk for future development of hypertension and CVD in women with recurring pre-eclampsia as opposed to women with a single episode of pre-eclampsia.

Tweetable abstract: The risk of future cardiovascular disease increases when women have recurrence of pre-eclampsia compared with a single episode.

Keywords: Cardiovascular disease; hypertension; long-term maternal outcomes; pre-eclampsia; recurrence.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Heart Failure / epidemiology
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / epidemiology
  • Myocardial Ischemia / epidemiology
  • Pre-Eclampsia / epidemiology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Recurrence
  • Risk Factors