‘Post-40 pregnancy’ puts you at increased stroke, heart attack risk

Washington: Are you planning to get pregnant after 40? You may want to rethink it as a new study suggests that women, who become pregnant at age 40 or older, may face a greater risk of a stroke later in life.

Lead researcher Adnan I. Qureshi from the Zeenat Qureshi Stroke Institute in St. Cloud, Minnesota said that they already knew that older women were more likely than younger women to experience health problems during their pregnancy, adding “Now, we know that the consequences of that later pregnancy stretch years into the future.”

Qureshi added that this finding was especially important because more women are choosing to have children after they turn forty.

Researchers reviewed data from 72,221 women aged 50 to 79 enrolled in the Women’s Health Initiative Study. Of those, 3,306 women reported pregnancies at an advanced age, and researchers compared their rates of stroke, heart attack and cardiovascular death over the next 12 years with women who were pregnant at a younger age.

Researchers found that compared to pregnancy at a younger age, pregnancies at age 40 and older increased the risk of Ischemic stroke (clot caused), the most common type of stroke, from 2.4 percent to 3.8 percent; Hemorrhagic stroke (brain bleed), from 0.5 percent to 1 percent; Heart attack from 2.5 percent to 3 percent; and Death from all forms of cardiovascular disease from 2.3 percent to 3.9 percent.

When researchers checked for well-known risk factors for cardiovascular disease, including high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol, they found these factors explained most of the higher risk the older pregnant women faced.

However, these established risk factors did not explain the link between advanced age pregnancy and stroke caused by a brain bleed. Researchers said this link needs further research. Hemorrhagic stroke accounts for about 13 percent of all strokes, according to the American Heart Association’s 2016 Statistical Update.

Qureshi also noted that the only cardiovascular risk factor that did not increase with later pregnancies in the study population was smoking. Older pregnant women were less likely to smoke than younger women.

The research has been presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2016. (ANI)