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Pregnancy after age 40 elevated risk of heart attack

Posted:  Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Older women not only have increased risk of adverse outcomes during, but also after pregnancy! Age and gender are the non-modifiable risk factors for heart disease and stroke. A new study has indicated that pregnancy after age 40 may also increase the risk of stroke and heart attack later in life.

This study was presented at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference in Los Angeles. In this 12 year follow-up study, out of the 72,000 women that were screened, 3300 conceived late in life. The rate of occurrence of stroke, heart attack, and cardiovascular deaths in women who were pregnant at younger and older ages was compared.

The researchers found that 3.8 per cent of women who became pregnant after the age of 40 were at risk of ischemic stroke compared to 2.4 per cent of women who were pregnant at a younger age. The risk of haemorrhagic stroke was raised from 0.5 per cent to 1 per cent from young to older women, respectively. Similarly, the risk of heart attack was found to increase from 2.5 per cent to 3 per cent. The incidence of cardiovascular death was 2.3 per cent in younger mothers and 3.9 percent in older mothers over 40 years of age.

Dr. Adnan Qureshi, the lead researcher and director of a stroke institute in Minnesota, USA said, "Women with a late pregnancy need to be aware of their increased risk and take steps to improve their cardiovascular health. And their doctors need to remain vigilant monitoring years later in these women's risk factors through physical examination and, perhaps more tests and earlier interventions to prevent stroke and other cardiovascular event."

The health outcomes of women delaying pregnancy can stretch years into the future. This study suggests that women can successfully reduce the complications in the later years of life by paying attention to cardiovascular risk factors.

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