New York: Women who experienced depression during pregnancy are more likely to be diagnosed with cardiovascular disease within two years after giving birth, according to a study of more than 100,000 people in the US.
The most significant association was between depression and ischemic heart disease, with individuals with depression having an 83 per cent higher risk of developing the condition than those without a depression diagnosis.
People with prenatal depression also had a 60 per cent higher risk of arrhythmia/cardiac arrest; a 61 per cent higher risk of cardiomyopathy; and a 32 per cent higher risk of new high blood pressure diagnosis.
The increased risk of cardiovascular disease was found even among individuals without high blood pressure during pregnancy, showed the findings published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
Among those without high blood pressure during pregnancy (pre-eclampsia or gestational hypertension) but prenatal depression, the risk for arrhythmia/cardiac arrest was 85 per cent; followed by ischemic heart disease (84 per cent); stroke (42 per cent); cardiomyopathy (53 per cent); and new high blood pressure diagnosis (43 per cent).
While previous research has found that about 20 per cent of individuals experience depression during pregnancy, little has been done on prenatal depression as a specific risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
“We need to use pregnancy as a window to future health,” said lead study author Christina M. Ackerman-Banks, Assistant Professor of obstetrics and gynaecology-maternal foetal medicine at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston.
“Complications during pregnancy, including prenatal depression, impact long-term cardiovascular health. The postpartum period provides an opportunity to counsel and screen people for cardiovascular disease in order to prevent these outcomes,” she added.
The team analysed data from over 100,000 individuals who gave birth in the US between 2007 and 2019.
Additional pregnancy-related factors contributing to the development of cardiovascular disease may include chronic inflammation and increased stress-related hormones, the team noted.
“I recommend that anyone diagnosed with prenatal depression be aware of the implications on their long-term cardiovascular health, take steps to screen for other risk factors and consult with their primary care doctor in order to implement prevention strategies for cardiovascular disease,” Ackerman-Banks said.
“They should also be screened for Type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol, and implement an exercise regimen, healthy diet and quit smoking.”
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