Cardiovascular Disease-Related Morbidity and Mortality in Women With a History of Pregnancy Complications

Circulation. 2019 Feb 19;139(8):1069-1079. doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.118.036748.


Background: Women with a history of certain pregnancy complications are at higher risk for cardiovascular (CVD) disease. However, most clinical guidelines only recommend postpartum follow-up of those with a history of preeclampsia, gestational diabetes mellitus, or preterm birth. This systematic review was undertaken to determine if there is an association between a broader array of pregnancy complications and the future risk of CVD.

Methods: We systematically searched PubMed, MEDLINE and EMBASE (via Ovid), CINAHL, and the Cochrane Library from inception to September 22, 2017, for observational studies of the association between the hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, placental abruption, preterm birth, gestational diabetes mellitus, low birth weight, small-for-gestational-age birth, stillbirth, and miscarriage and subsequent CVD. Likelihood ratio meta-analyses were performed to generate pooled odds ratios (OR) and 95% intrinsic confidence intervals (ICI).

Results: Our systematic review included 84 studies (28 993 438 patients). Sample sizes varied from 250 to 2 000 000, with a median follow-up of 7.5 years postpartum. The risk of CVD was highest in women with gestational hypertension (OR 1.7; 95% ICI, 1.3-2.2), preeclampsia (OR 2.7; 95% ICI, 2.5-3.0), placental abruption (OR 1.8; 95% ICI, 1.4-2.3), preterm birth (OR 1.6; 95% ICI, 1.4-1.9), gestational diabetes mellitus (OR 1.7; 95% ICI, 1.1-2.5), and stillbirth (OR 1.5; 95% ICI, 1.1-2.1). A consistent trend was seen for low birth weight and small-for-gestational-age birth weight but not for miscarriage.

Conclusions: Women with a broader array of pregnancy complications, including placental abruption and stillbirth, are at increased risk of future CVD. The findings support the need for assessment and risk factor management beyond the postpartum period.

Keywords: cardiovascular disease; maternal health; meta-analysis; pregnancy complications; systematic review.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / diagnosis
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / mortality
  • Cause of Death
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / diagnosis
  • Pregnancy Complications / epidemiology*
  • Pregnancy Complications / mortality
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult

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