Cardio-Obstetrics: the Next Frontier in Cardiovascular Disease Prevention

Curr Atheroscler Rep. 2022 Jul;24(7):493-507. doi: 10.1007/s11883-022-01026-6. Epub 2022 May 7.


Purpose of review: Internationally, cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death in women. With risk factors for CVD continuing to rise, early identification and management of chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, and obstructive sleep apnea is necessary for prevention. Pregnancy is a natural stress test for women with risk factors who may be predisposed to CVD and offers a unique opportunity to not only recognize disease but also implement effective and long-lasting strategies for prevention.

Recent findings: Prevention begins before pregnancy, as preconception screening, counseling, and optimization of chronic diseases can improve maternal and fetal outcomes. Throughout pregnancy, women should maintain close follow-up, continued reevaluation of risk factors, with counseling when necessary. Continued healthcare engagement during the "fourth trimester," 3 months following delivery, allows clinicians to continue monitoring the evolution of chronic diseases, encourage ongoing lifestyle counseling, and connect women with primary care and appropriate specialists if needed. Unfortunately, this postpartum period represents a major care gap, as a significant proportion of most women do not attend their scheduled visits. Social determinants of health including decreased access to care and economic instability lead to increased risk factors throughout pregnancy but particularly play a role in poor compliance with postpartum follow-up. The use of telemedicine clinics and remote monitoring may prove to be effective interventions, bridging the gap between physicians and patients and improving follow-up for at-risk women. While many clinicians are beginning to understand the impact of CVD on women, screening and prevention strategies are not often implemented until much later in life. Pregnancy creates an opportunity to begin engaging women in cardiovascular protective strategies before the development of the disease.

Keywords: Cardio-Obstetrics; Cardiovascular disease; Postpartum care; Prevention; Telemedicine.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Cardiovascular Diseases* / diagnosis
  • Cardiovascular Diseases* / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases* / prevention & control
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Obstetrics*
  • Postpartum Period
  • Pregnancy
  • Risk Factors