WOMEN who have pre-eclampsia while pregnant retain a greater risk of of deadly heart attacks and strokes for at least two decades after infection, new research suggests.

The findings come following a study over over 1million pregnant women for up to 39 years after they gave birth.

The condition is thought to affect around one in 25 pregnancies in the UK

Women with the condition – which causes high blood pressure during pregnancy – were found to be four times more likely to have a heart attack and three times more likely to have a stroke within 10 years of delivery.

And they remained twice more likely experience the heart issues than those without pre-eclampsia up to 20 years later.

Study author Dr Sara Hallum of the University of Copenhagen said the findings indicate that mums with the condition should be monitored long after giving birth.

“Prevention should start within a decade of delivery, for example by treating high blood pressure and informing women about risk factors for heart disease such as smoking and inactivity,” she added.

According to the British Heart Foundation pre-eclampsia, which affects one in 25 pregnancies sin the UK.

The study was published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.

What is pre-eclampsia?

Pre-eclampsia is a condition that affects pregnant women, usually after the 20-week mark or straight after their baby is delivered.

Early signs include having high blood pressure (hypertension) and protein in their urine (proteinuria), according to the NHS website.

Mild pre-eclampsia affects up to six per cent of pregnancies, while severe cases develop in up to two per cent.

The exact cause of the condition is currently unknown, but it’s thought to occur when there’s a problem with the placenta.

There are also several factors that increase the chance of developing the condition, including having a family history of it, being over 40 or expecting multiple babies.

What are the symptoms?

According to the NHS symptoms of pre-eclampsia include:

  • swelling of the feet, ankles, face and hands
  • severe headache
  • vision problems
  • pain just below the ribs

However many people don’t notice the signs of pre-eclampsia, which means it’s usually picked up during routine antenatal appointments.

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