To examine the association between hypertensive diseases of pregnancy (gestational hypertension and pre-eclampsia) and the development of circulatory diseases in later life.
Cohort study of women who had pre-eclampsia during their first singleton pregnancy. Two comparison groups were matched for age and year of delivery, one with gestational hypertension and one with no history of raised blood pressure.
Maternity services in the Grampian region of Scotland.
Women selected from the Aberdeen maternity and neonatal databank who were resident in Aberdeen and who delivered a first, live singleton from 1951 to 1970.
Main outcome measures
Current vital and cardiovascular health status ascertained through postal questionnaire survey, clinical examination, linkage to hospital discharge, and mortality data.
There were significant positive associations between pre-eclampsia/eclampsia or gestational hypertension and later hypertension in all measures. The adjusted relative risks varied from 1.13-3.72 for gestational hypertension and 1.40-3.98 for pre-eclampsia or eclampsia. The adjusted incident rate ratio for death from stroke for the pre-eclampsia/eclampsia group was 3.59 (95% confidence interval 1.04 to 12.4).
Hypertensive diseases of pregnancy seem to be associated in later life with diseases related to hypertension. If greater awareness of this association leads to earlier diagnosis and improved management, there may be scope for reducing a proportion of the morbidity and mortality from such diseases.
What is already known on this topic
Much is known about the effect of cardiovascular risks factors that are shared by men and women, but less on those specific to women
Retrospective studies, based on patient recall, suggest that hypertension in pregnancy may be associated with increased risk of cardiovascular diseases in later life
What this study adds
Prospective recording of blood pressure and proteinuria shows that women who experienced raised blood pressure in pregnancy have a long term risk of hypertension
Women who experience raise blood pressure in pregnancy have an increased risk of stroke and, to a lesser extent, an increased risk of ischaemic heart disease
Long term cardiovascular risks are greater for women who had pre-eclampsia than those who experienced gestational hypertension (hypertension without proteinuria)