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14:14 PM

First-Time Pregnancy Complications Linked to Increased Risk of Hypertension as Soon as Three Years Post-Partum

Pregnancy history, prevention strategies may hold a key to improving longer-term health outcomes

Women who experience complications such as preterm births and preeclampsia during their first pregnancy are nearly twice more likely than women without complications to develop high blood pressure later in life — some as quickly as three years later, according to a recent study.

The researchers found that 31% of the women with at least one adverse outcome during their first pregnancy experienced chronic hypertension, while only 17% of those who did not experience complications developed this condition. The risk of developing chronic hypertension grows even higher with additional adverse outcomes.

Brian Mercer, MD, Chair, Obstetrics & Gynecology, The MetroHealth System, is the Principal Investigator for the MetroHealth site, and MetroHealth patients are participants in the study.

Researchers say their findings underscore the need for doctors to focus more aggressively on knowing the health histories of women — both during their pregnancies to help prevent adverse outcomes, and afterwards to flag their risks for future cardiovascular events. Dr. Mercer says “We want physicians to know that if their patients had any complication during pregnancy, their routine health care needs to include monitoring blood pressure, weight and cholesterol.”

The study of more than 4,000 women, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, was funded largely by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

About the MetroHealth System

Founded in 1837, MetroHealth is leading the way to a healthier you and a healthier community through service, teaching, discovery, and teamwork. Cuyahoga County’s public, safety-net hospital system, MetroHealth meets people where they are, providing care through five hospitals, four emergency departments and more than 20 health centers. Each day, our nearly 9,000 employees focus on providing our community with equitable healthcare — through patient-focused research, access to care, and support services — that seeks to eradicate health disparities rooted in systematic barriers. For more information, visit