These women should be told about their increased risk for cardiovascular disease, Kaaja said.
Women with a normal waist-hip ratio who had preeclampsia should be careful not to gain weight later in life, Kaaja said.
In addition, blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels should be checked regularly among women with a history of preeclampsia. "With increasing waist-to-hip ratio, they will become insulin-resistant, and their vasodilatation will be impaired," Kaaja said. "Both factors, insulin resistance and impaired vasodilatation, lead to cardiovascular diseases."
Preeclampsia affects between 5 percent and 8 percent of all pregnancies. The condition is characterized by high blood pressure and protein in the urine. Common symptoms include swelling, sudden weight gain, headaches, and changes in vision. However, some women report few symptoms.
Dr. Byron Lee, an associate professor of cardiology at University of California, San Francisco, thinks this study helps explain why women with a history of preeclampsia are at risk for heart disease.
"Although we have known for awhile that women with a history of preeclampsia are at increased risk of coronary artery disease, we were not sure why," Lee said. "This study suggests that the body fat may be the link. Therefore, women who have had preeclampsia should be extra careful to keep off excess weight."
For more on preeclampsia, visit the National Institutes of Health.
SOURCES: Risto Kaaja, M.D., D.M.Sc., researcher, Helsinki University Hospital, Finland; Byron Lee, M.D., ass
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