Women who give birth before the 37th week of pregnancy are at a greater risk of ischemic heart disease (IHD), according to new findings published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
The authors tracked data from more than 2 million women who gave birth in Sweden from 1973 to 2015. Overall, 2.3% of those women went on to be diagnosed with IHD, and preterm births were a “strong independent risk factor” for IHD.
“Preterm delivery should now be recognized as an independent risk factor for IHD across the life course,” lead author Casey Crump, MD, PhD, professor of family medicine and community health at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, said in a prepared statement. “Cardiovascular risk assessment in women should routinely include reproductive history that covers preterm delivery and other pregnancy complications. Women with a history of preterm delivery may warrant early preventive actions to reduce other IHD risk factors, including obesity, physical inactivity, and smoking, and long-term monitoring for timely detection and treatment of IHD.”
In addition, the editorialists said, this research shows why new patient interventions may need to be developed specifically for women with a history of preterm birth.
“We must employ strategies, such as the adoption of pre-conception healthy behaviors and adequate and accessible prenatal care, to promote healthy pregnancies with the expectation to achieve later-term deliveries,” wrote Anne Marie Valente, MD, of Boston Children’s Hospital/Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and colleagues. “Maternal obstetric history, including lengths of gestation and any antepartum and postpartum maternal complications, should be included in the medical history of all women.”