Miscarriages foretell heart trouble

A woman’s experiences in childbearing may presage her risk of heart disease, according to new research. Women who spontaneously lose one or more fetuses early in pregnancy are about 50 percent more likely than other women to later suffer ischemic heart disease, in which constricted or obstructed blood vessels choke the flow of blood to the heart.

Elective abortions don’t appear to influence women’s risk for ischemic heart disease, Gordon C.S. Smith of Cambridge University in England and his colleagues say.

The researchers reached these conclusions after analyzing data on all 129,290 women in Scotland who delivered their first live baby from 1981 through 1985. Additional data showed that those women who had had an early miscarriage in a previous pregnancy were more likely than other new mothers to have died from or been hospitalized with ischemic heart disease between 1981 and 1999.

The loss of a fetus probably doesn’t directly influence heart disease risk, Smith and his colleagues say in the Feb. 22 British Medical Journal. Rather, women with circulatory defects that predispose their blood vessels to become blocked face an elevated risk for both fetal loss and heart disease, the researchers hypothesize.


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