Study: Gestational Diabetes increases women risk for heart attack and stroke
Women with a history of diabetes during pregnancy (gestational diabetes) are twice as likely by mid-life to develop calcium in heart arteries-a strong predictor of heart disease- even if healthy blood sugar levels were attained many years after pregnancy, according to new research. The research was published today in the American Heart Association's flagship journal Circulation.
Gestational diabetes, which is high blood sugar levels (glucose intolerance) first recognized during pregnancy, affects approximately 9% of U.S. pregnancies and up to 20% worldwide. After pregnancy, women who had gestational diabetes are at higher risk of developing prediabetes or Type 2 diabetes, conditions that are risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
Previous studies found a much higher risk of heart disease in women with a history of gestational diabetes who later developed Type 2 diabetes. However, it remained unclear whether heart disease risk among women with a history of gestational diabetes was lower for women who attained healthy glucose levels or who developed prediabetes in mid-life.
In 2018, the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Cholesterol Clinical Practice Guidelines specified that a history of gestational diabetes enhances women's risk for artery build-up that leads to cardiovascular disease.
Using data from the multicenter, 30-year prospective Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adult (CARDIA) study, researchers investigated whether attaining healthy blood sugar levels after pregnancy would mitigate the increased risk of cardiovascular disease that is associated with a history of gestational diabetes.