MONDAY, February 8, 2021 (HealthDay News) – Developing diabetes during pregnancy may increase a woman’s risk for heart disease later in life, according to a new study.
These included around 1,100 women without type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Those who developed diabetes during pregnancy (gestational diabetes) were twice as likely to have calcium in their arteries in middle age (median age: 48 years), a strong predictor of heart disease.
This was true even when her blood sugar levels returned to healthy levels after pregnancy, the study said. The results were published in Circulation magazine on February 1.
Gestational diabetes affects approximately 9% of pregnancies in the US and up to 20% worldwide.
Previous studies showed that women with a history of gestational diabetes who later developed type 2 diabetes were at a much higher risk of heart disease. The risk, however, was unclear for women whose blood sugar levels returned to healthy levels after gestational diabetes.
To find out, the researchers analyzed data from the 30-year evolution of the risk for coronary arteries in the study for young adults – CARDIA for short.
They said this study was the first to use mid-life blood sugar levels to compare the risk of heart disease in women with a history of gestational diabetes with others.
The results were strong, according to study author Erica Gunderson, a senior scientist in the cardiovascular and metabolic disease division of Kaiser Permanente’s research division in Oakland, California.
“Women with previous gestational diabetes were twice as likely to have coronary artery calcium if they maintained normal blood sugar levels, later developed prediabetes, or later diagnosed with type 2 diabetes many years after pregnancy, compared to women without previous gestational diabetes with normal Blood sugar levels, “she said in a press release.
The researchers said the results show that normal blood sugar after gestational diabetes is still related to an increased risk of calcium build-up in a woman’s arteries.
“Heart disease risk assessments shouldn’t wait until a woman has developed prediabetes or type 2 diabetes,” said Gunderson.
She said diabetes and other health problems that develop during pregnancy are early harbingers of future risk for chronic diseases.
“Health systems need to incorporate an individual’s history of gestational diabetes into their health records and periodically monitor their risk factors for heart disease and recommended tests for type 2 diabetes in these women, which is critical to targeted prevention efforts.” Said Gunderson.
The American Diabetes Association has more about gestational diabetes.
SOURCE: Edition, press release, February 1, 2021