Pregnancy-An Ideal Period to Identify Women at Risk for Chronic Hypertension

Hypertension. 2024 Feb;81(2):311-318. doi: 10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.123.21573. Epub 2023 Nov 1.


Background: Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of mortality in women. Pregnancy is an ideal period to implement cardiovascular prevention strategies as women seek medical help. We aimed to develop a predictive model to identify women at increased risk for chronic hypertension (CH) based on information collected in the index pregnancy.

Methods: Cohort of 26 511 women seen in 2 consecutive pregnancies. Included were women without CH, with information on maternal characteristics and blood pressure at 11 to 13 weeks' gestation, and the development of preeclampsia or gestational hypertension (GH) in the index pregnancy. Logistic regression models were fitted for the prediction of the development of future CH by the 20th week of the subsequent pregnancy. The performance of screening and risk calibration of the model were assessed.

Results: In this study 1560 (5.9%) women developed preeclampsia or GH (index pregnancy), and 215 (0.8%) developed future CH, with a median of 3.0 years later. Predictors of development of future CH were maternal age, weight, and blood pressure; Black and South Asian ethnicity; family history of preeclampsia; parity; and development of preeclampsia or GH. Preeclampsia or GH detected 52.1% (45.2%-58.9%) of future CH. At a screen-positive rate of 10%, a model including maternal characteristics, early pregnancy blood pressure, and development of preeclampsia or GH detected 73.5% (67.1-79.3) of future CH.

Conclusions: Early pregnancy maternal characteristics, blood pressure, and development of preeclampsia or GH identify three-fourths of women at risk for future CH. Our results offer an important preventative strategy for identifying women at increased risk of future CH, which is applicable worldwide.

Keywords: hypertension; hypertension, pregnancy-induced; preeclampsia; pregnancy; risk factors.

MeSH terms

  • Blood Pressure
  • Cardiovascular Diseases* / complications
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension, Pregnancy-Induced* / diagnosis
  • Hypertension, Pregnancy-Induced* / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Maternal Age
  • Pre-Eclampsia* / diagnosis
  • Pre-Eclampsia* / epidemiology
  • Pre-Eclampsia* / prevention & control
  • Pregnancy
  • Risk Factors