Wednesday June 07, 2023

Women must take care of heart health before pregnancy

Study shows women's heart health prior to conception has significant bearing on cardiovascular health of both mother and her child

By Web Desk
February 18, 2023
An undated image of a  woman running. — Pexels
An undated image of a  woman running. — Pexels

For some people, one of the most thrilling times in their life may be finding out they are pregnant. 

It is crucial to take good care of your heart health even before becoming pregnant in order to ensure a safe pregnancy for both you and the baby, recent research revealed.

According to the American Heart Association research, women's heart health prior to conception has a significant bearing on the risks associated with pregnancy as well as the long-term cardiovascular health of both the mother and her child.

Naturally, once pregnancy starts, the mother's health has an effect on the unborn child. Yet, preventing the generational cycle of poor cardiovascular health, which is frequent in countries like the United States, may require enhancing heart health prior to conception.

Taking care of one's health before conceiving is particularly crucial for women who are affected by racism in institutions and low social conditions, the study findings showed.

According to associate professor at Emory University School of Medicine and vice chair of the statement drafting committee Holly Gooding, MD, "If you improve the mother's pre-pregnancy health, that optimises her health during pregnancy, which affects the child's health later in life." 

Shockingly, more than one in four pregnancy-related deaths in the United States are caused by cardiovascular disease, a general term for any condition affecting the heart or blood vessels.

According to the latest analysis, the issue has been made worse by an increase in pregnancy-related hazards. Health issues, such as high blood pressure, early births, low birth weights, and gestational diabetes, impact about one in five pregnancies. Over the past ten years, the chances of high blood pressure have risen, and these pregnancies raise the risk of cardiovascular disease in both the mother and the child.

The study also emphasises the requirement for legislative changes to get rid of structural racism and other harmful societal elements that deprive some women of better maternal health. "It is crucial to find ways to intervene and fairly promote health," said the writing committee chair and an assistant professor of medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago Sadiya Khan, MD.

Gooding claimed that the concept of "pre-pregnancy" was expanded by the writing committee to encompass all reproductive years. This age range, which varies from person to person, is roughly between 15 and 44.

"We avoided defining it on purpose because that's something further study needs to address," said Khan. 

How to improve heart health

Khan emphasised the need of adhering to the health standards outlined in the AHA's Life Essential 8 to ensure you have optimal heart health, regardless of your age.

The key points include:

  • No smoking
  • Enough sleep
  • Physical activity
  • Healthy weight
  • Healthy diet
  • Maintaining healthy blood pressure, blood glucose, and cholesterol levels