Diabetes And Pregnancy Raises Risk of Heart Disease

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There's bad news for females who get gestational diabetes, a form of diabetes that can develop during pregnancy. The disease typically goes away after childbirth. However, a new research study by Counsel & Heal which analyzed the long term effects of gestational diabetes is reporting that pregnant women with diabetes have an increased risk of heart disease. The study was published in The Journal of the American Heart Association.

The 20-year research study followed 898 participants between the ages of 18 and 30. The initial part of the study assessed each female before she got pregnant in order to determine her risk of developing heart disease. Researchers factored in aspects like race, age, body-mass-index, insulin, lipids, fasting blood glucose and blood pressure. Then the participants were tested again for diabetes and heart disease after they had children.

The study stated that women who have had gestational diabetes typically developed thicker carotid arteries compared with pregnant females who did not have gestational diabetes. Senior research scientist Erica P. Gunderson spoke about the findings. "Our research shows that just having a history of gestational diabetes elevates a woman's risk of developing early, sub-clinical atherosclerosis before she develops type 2 diabetes or the metabolic syndrome. She added, "Pregnancy has been under-recognized as an important time period that can signal a woman's greater risk for future heart disease. This signal is revealed by gestational diabetes, a condition of elevated blood sugar during pregnancy."

Of the 898 participants in the study, 119 of them or 13 percent, suffered from gestational diabetes. These females had carotid artery intima-media thickness that was 0.023 mm larger than the females without the disease.

"This finding indicates that a history of gestational diabetes may influence development of early atherosclerosis before the onset of diabetes and metabolic diseases that previously have been linked to heart disease," Gunderson stated. "Gestational diabetes may be an early risk factor for heart disease in women."

Image via Wikimedia Commons

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