Women with high blood pressure in their first pregnancy have a greater risk of heart attack or cardiovascular death, researchers have warned.
“Women who were diagnosed with preeclampsia tended also to have a history of chronic high blood pressure, gestational diabetes and kidney disease and other medical conditions,” said study lead author Mary Downes Gastrich, Associate Professor at Rutgers University in the US.
Approximately two to eight per cent of pregnant women worldwide are diagnosed with preeclampsia, a complication characterised by high blood pressure that usually begins after 20 weeks of pregnancy in women whose blood pressure had been normal.
Doctors haven’t identified a single cause, but it is thought to be related to insufficiently formed placental blood vessels. Preeclampsia is also the cause of 15 per cent of premature births in the US.
For the findings, the researchers analysed cardiovascular disease in 6,360 women, age 18 to 54, who were pregnant for the first time and diagnosed with preeclampsia in New Jersey hospitals from 1999 to 2013 and compared them to pregnant women without preeclampsia.
They found that those with the condition were four times more likely to suffer a heart attack or cardiovascular death and more than two times more likely to die from other causes during the 15-year study period.
The study suggests that all women be screened for preeclampsia throughout their pregnancy and that treatment be given to those with preeclampsia within five years after birth.
In a growing list of studies on whether women are less prone to heart disease than men, fresh research of more than 160,000 people in 21 countries that was published in The Lancet has revealed that women are less likely than men to have cardiovascular disease (CVD) and die from it.
According to the study, there have been concerns that women with CVD are managed less aggressively than men which could lead to women having poorer prognoses. Some have attributed this to a treatment bias against women. “In our global study, we observed that while prevention strategies were used more often by women, invasive strategies such as percutaneous coronary intervention and coronary artery bypass surgery was used more often for men,” said study first author Marjan Walli-Attaei from McMaster University in Canada.
“But, overall, outcomes such as death or a new heart attack or stroke in women were lower than in men. This suggests there may be factors other than a treatment bias against women that contribute to the treatment differences,” Walli-Attaei added. It didn’t matter if women had, or didn’t have, a previous heart attack or stroke. It also didn’t matter where they lived around the world and nor their economic status, the study said.
The information came from the Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiological (PURE) study which followed the participants an average of 10 years. It is the first global study to document the risk factors, use of treatment, the incidence of heart attacks and strokes and mortality in people from the community, rather than just hospital patients.
The findings showed that women with no history of cardiovascular disease (CVD) were more likely to use preventative medicines, control hypertension and to have quit smoking, compared to men. According to the researchers, the lower rates of invasive cardiac treatments of women with CVD could be partly explained by the fact that fewer women than men have the type of extensive atherosclerosis that requires medical interventions.
“Other studies have reported that sex differences in invasive cardiac procedures are not seen once we consider the extent and severity of coronary artery disease,” said study co-author Annika Rosengren. “This suggests that the lower rates of coronary interventions in women are appropriate as they have less extensive disease,” she said. There is, however, substantial concern about the differences in treatment between poorer and richer countries.
The differences in outcomes in both women and men in low-income countries, where approximately 40 per cent die within 30 days of a heart attack or stroke compared to the less than 10 per cent in high-income countries, is a matter of substantial concern, the researchers noted. Another research, published earlier this month in the Journal of the American Heart Association, found that men and women largely suffer the same heart attack symptoms.
Investigating why heart disease generally develops later in women than men, another study published in journal Cardiovascular Research in 2017, demonstrated a link among female ovarian hormones, the circadian system which regulates the body’s day-night cycle, and the observation that women enjoy significant protection against heart disease when compared to men. (IANS)
The coronavirus pandemic’s life-altering effects are likely to result in lasting physical and mental health consequences for several people, warn researchers.
For the findings, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the research team studied low-income women from New Orleans in the US, who were surveyed the year prior to, and at intervals after Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005.
The women reported a range of traumatic experiences during Katrina, many of which are similar to those now occurring during the pandemic, including bereavement, lack of access to medical care and scarcity of medications.
The research showed that at one, four and 12 years after the hurricane, the exposures most strongly associated with post-traumatic stress, psychological distress, general health and physical health symptoms were those most common to the current pandemic.
The pandemic continues to cause widespread death and sickness, as well as job loss and severe economic hardship for many.
“This pandemic is likely to have profound short- and long-term consequences for physical and mental health,” said study researcher Sarah Lowe, Assistant Professor at Yale University in the US.
“These impacts are likely to be even larger than what we have seen in previous disasters like Hurricane Katrina, given the distinctive qualities of the pandemic as a disaster,” Lowe added.
The study did not include other exposures that are taking place during the pandemic, such as financial losses and unemployment, which are also likely to have additional and significant impacts on public health.
The results suggest that, in addition to promoting actions to reduce COVID-19 transmission and addressing longstanding health disparities contributing to COVID-19 morbidity and mortality, public health measures should also prevent and mitigate exposures that will have indirect effects on mental and physical health.
This includes preventing lapses in medical care and medication access. Additionally, another key exposure in the study was fear for one’s own safety and the safety of others.
As such, public health messaging should provide tips for managing anxiety and fear, in addition to promoting efforts to increase safety from COVID-19 transmission.
“Supplemental health services should be provided to those who are bereaved or are experiencing clinically significant fear and anxiety-related the pandemic,” Lowe said.
“This study represents a step toward disentangling the health consequences of disasters, while also recognising more longstanding factors that contribute to health disparities,” she wrote.
Recently, another study, published in The Lancet Psychiatry journal, revealed that people taken ill by coronavirus infections may experience psychiatric problems while hospitalised and potentially after they recover. (IANS)