Decade-long study shows risk of stroke increases drastically for women giving birth after 40

Decade-long study shows risk of stroke increases drastically for women giving birth after 40

The risk of heart attack also increases when compared to younger mothers. Read on for more information...

We know that getting pregnant when you're older is associated with certain health risks, such as gestational diabetes, high blood pressure during during pregnancy,  and premature birth to state just a few.

Now, new research has added two more serious health risks to the list: stroke and heart attack. The results of the study were presented recently the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference 2016 in Las Vegas.

According to The Guardian, chief researcher of the study Adnan Qureshi said, "We already knew that older women were more likely than younger women to experience health problems during their pregnancy. Now, we know that the consequences of that later pregnancy stretch years into the future."

The study

Over 12 years, data was collected and analysed from 72,000 women aged 50 to 79 enrolled in the U.S. Women's Health Initiative Study.

Of this group of women, 3,300 became pregnant after they turned 40. Researchers discovered that the risk of heart attack rose slightly for these older women, from 2.5 to 3 percent.

But the risk of stroke for older mums nearly doubled in comparison with younger mums: nearly 4 percent of the former had strokes in comparison to 2.4 percent of the latter.

Older mothers also had a 3.9 percent risk of cardiovascular death compared to 2.3 percent of those who conceievd at a younger age, according to the The Guardian report.

Need for more vigilance

The results of this study are particularly relevant these days as more and more women are choosing to delay pregnancy for various reasons.

"Women with a late pregnancy need to be aware of their increased risk and take steps to improve their cardiovascular health," said Qureshi. "Their doctors also need to remain vigilant years later in monitoring these women’s risk factors through physical examination and, perhaps more tests and earlier interventions to prevent stroke and other cardiovascular events."

Meanwhile, Dr Kelly Loi, a fertility specialist at Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore, has this advice for women who are considering delaying pregnancy:

“Take prenatal and folic acid supplements to prevent neural tube defects which lead to problems like spina bifida.

“Schedule a preconception appointment to assess overall gynaecological health and fertility status. Seeing a fertility specialist would be useful to determine if fertility treatment is needed and optimise chances of pregnancy."

Are you an older mum or do you know someone who conceived after 40? Share your thoughts on this article in a comment below. 

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