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Gestational diabetes linked to increased risk for heart disease in midlife
Date:3/12/2014

OAKLAND, Calif. Women who experience gestational diabetes may face an increased risk of early heart disease later in life, even if they do not develop type 2 diabetes or metabolic syndrome subsequent to their pregnancy, according to a Kaiser Permanente study published today in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

"Our research shows that just having a history of gestational diabetes elevates a woman's risk of developing early atherosclerosis before she develops type 2 diabetes or metabolic syndrome," said Erica P. Gunderson, PhD, MPH, study lead author and senior research scientist in the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, Calif. "Pregnancy has been under-recognized as an important time period that can signal a woman's greater risk for future heart disease. This signal is revealed by gestational diabetes."

Gestational diabetes, a condition of elevated blood sugar during pregnancy, usually disappears after the pregnancy. It is managed with meal planning, activity and sometimes insulin or other medications.

In the 20-year study, researchers assessed risk factors for heart disease before pregnancy among 898 women, 18 to 30 years old, who later had one or more births. The women were periodically tested for diabetes and metabolic conditions before and after their pregnancies. Using ultrasound, researchers measured the thickness of the walls of participants' carotid artery, which circulates blood to the neck and face. Carotid artery wall thickness is an early measure of atherosclerosis plaque build-up in arteries and predicts heart attack and stroke in women. The artery's thickness was measured on average 12 years after pregnancy.

Researchers found a larger average carotid artery wall thickness in study participants with a history of gestational diabetes who did not develop diabetes or metabolic syndrome during the 20-year follow-up compared to those who never experienced gestational diabetes..
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Contact: Jennifer Schell
jschell@golinharris.com
202-585-2612
Kaiser Permanente
Source:Eurekalert

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