More than 27,000 of the women had at least one preterm birth, and there were nearly 41,000 cases of cardiovascular disease in the whole study population.
The researchers found that women with a history of preterm birth had 40 percent higher odds of developing cardiovascular disease than women without such histories. Women who had more than one preterm birth had a threefold increased risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, the researchers found.
"We don't know exactly why the risks are increased. Our hypothesis is that these women may be coming into pregnancy a little bit different. It could be that what puts them at risk for preterm birth is also related to cardiovascular disease risk later," said the study's lead author, Janet Catov, an assistant professor in the department of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.
But, she said, the researchers can't know the cause for sure from this data, only that there's an association.
"Women who've had preterm births might want to talk about it with their physicians, and make sure they know their numbers. What is your cholesterol? What about your LDL ['bad' cholesterol] ?," she said.
The third study looked at how having the ovaries removed (oophorectomy) at the time of a hysterectomy affected a woman's health. In this study of almost 30,000 women, 44 percent had a simple hysterectomy, which left their ovaries intact, while 56 percent had their ovaries removed along with their uterus.
After 24 years of follow-up, the researchers found that women who'd had their ovaries removed had lower rates of breast, ovarian and total cancers. However, the overall risk of dying (from any cause) was increased by 12 percent
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