Public Release:  Research connects pregnancy loss and cardiovascular disease

Women & Infants Hospital

The Annals of Family Medicine today published an article detailing research showing that women with a history of pregnancy loss are at higher risk for cardiovascular disease later in adulthood than other women, work completed by physicians in the Center for Primary Care and Prevention (CPCP) at Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island.

The article "Risk of Cardiovascular Disease Among Postmenopausal Women with Prior Pregnancy Loss: The Women's Health Initiative" stems from the analysis of data from the maternity experiences of a sample of 77,701 women, according to Donna Parker, ScD, director for community health and research with the CPCP. Of those, 30.3 percent reported a history of miscarriage, 2.2 percent a history of stillbirth, and 2.2 percent a history of both.

"We found that the adjusted odds for coronary heart disease in women who had one or more stillbirths was 1.27 (95 percent confidence interval (CI), which is a measure of reliability, 1.07-1.51) compared with women who had no stillbirths," Dr. Parker says. "For women with a history of one miscarriage, the odds ratio was 1.19 (95 percent CI, 1.08-1.32). For women with a history of two or more miscarriages, the odds ratio was 1.18 (95 percent CI, 1.04-1.34) compared with no miscarriage."

The researchers found no significant association of ischemic stroke and pregnancy loss, she adds. The association between pregnancy loss and coronary heart disease appeared to be independent of hypertension, body mass index, waist-to-hip ratio and white blood cell count.

"These findings contribute to the growing body of evidence that the metabolic, hormonal and hemostatic pathway alterations that are associated with a pregnancy loss may contribute to the development of coronary heart disease in adulthood," Dr. Parker continues.

Women with a history of miscarriage or a single stillbirth should be closely monitored and receive early intervention from their primary care physician so risk factors such as diabetes, hypertension, cholesterol, obesity, smoking and diet can be closely monitored and controlled.

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In addition to Dr. Parker, Charles B. Eaton, MD, MS, director of The Center for Primary Care and Prevention and a professor of Family Medicine at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, was listed as an author on the article. Other authors included: Bing Lu, DrPH; Megan Sands, PhD; Candyce Kroenke, MPH, ScD; Cathy C. Lee, MD, MS; Mary O'Sullivan, MD; Hannah L Park, PhD; Nisha Parikh, MD; and Robert S. Schenken, MD.

For more information on The Center for Primary Care and Prevention, go to mhri.org.

About Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island

Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island, a Care New England hospital, is a 294-bed hospital that serves as the major teaching affiliate of The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University and the chief site for the medical school's primary care academic program. Research focuses on primary care and disease prevention, including osteoarthritis, heart disease, cancer, pulmonary function, maternal and child health and women's health issues.

Memorial provides a full spectrum of health services for the people of Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts. Services include oncology, cardiovascular, rehabilitation, pain management, obstetrics/gynecology, pediatrics, 24-hour intensive care specialist coverage and diagnostics. Memorial offers primary care services in Pawtucket, Central Falls and Plainville, Massachusetts, an adult day center, and home care program to provide a seamless system of medical care.

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