Pregnant women everywhere take heed.
Maintaining high blood pressure in pregnancy might have even more negative effects on a mother's body than initially thought.
For years we have been told that gestational hypertension can carry a bevy of unwanted health issues for women. Poorly controlled blood pressure can damage kidneys, liver, brain lungs and the heart and in the most severe cases can even cause death. With all that modern medicine can offer expectant mothers in terms of managing blood pressure levels, preeclampsia continues to account for roughly eight percent of maternal deaths, or 70 to 80 deaths per year, in The United States. It's nothing to mess around with to be sure. Elevated blood pressure levels in expectant mothers can also lead to future cardiovascular issues down the line. A woman has a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease if she has had preeclampsia more than once or has had a premature birth because of high blood pressure issues during pregnancy.
Now researchers are finding that more possible dangers lie ahead for women who struggled at one point or another with blood pressure levels in their pregnancies.
A large study recently published in The BMJ looked at over one million women in Denmark who had given birth between the years of 1978 and 2015. None of the women had a prior issue with cardiovascular issues, diabetes or dementia pre-pregnancy. What they found was that the women who had developed pre-eclampsia at one point or another in their pregnancies were 3.4 times more likely to develop vascular dementia later on in life.
Vascular dementia is a brain disease that is characterized by a blood vessel blockage resulting in a lack of oxygen and blood supply. This type of dementia differs from Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, which do not have a particularly strong link to conditions such as preeclampsia. The authors of the study claim that knowing this link exists can do a great service to expectant mothers down the line. Doctors might now know which women need to be screened for early prevention methods for vascular dementia, simply because of their maternal history.