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Dementia risk is increased by pregnancy complications

According to new research, pregnant women with high blood pressure are more likely to develop dementia later in life. 

In the United States, about one in seven pregnant women experience high blood pressure issues. They rank among the top causes of disease and fatalities in both mothers and infants.

Preeclampsia and gestational hypertension are two examples of these conditions. Few research have previously explored the links between these illnesses and thinking and memory, despite the fact that these prenatal problems have a substantial association with cardiac disease in later life.

Over 59,000 women gave birth in Utah over an 80-year period, and the records of those births were examined by researchers.

Women with preeclampsia had a 1.38 times higher risk of dementia overall and a 1.58 times higher risk of “vascular” dementia, which is a decline in thinking abilities brought on by conditions that block or reduce blood flow to the brain, compared to women without a history of a high blood pressure disorder throughout pregnancy. Also, women with a history of gestational hypertension had 1.36 times higher risk of dementia overall and 2.75 times higher risk of vascular dementia.

The research was presented at the International Conference of the Alzheimer’s Association by Karen Schliep, Ph.D. from the University of Utah Health in Salt Lake City. The conclusions from Utah are consistent with a recent Danish study.

According to that study, women who experienced preeclampsia during pregnancy had a risk of dementia that was more than three times greater than that of those who did not experience the pregnancy problem.

Considering the serious short- and long-term effects of these pregnancy complications, “early detection and treatment are vital to protect both the pregnant person and baby,” Claire Sexton, PhD, senior director of scientific programs and outreach at the Alzheimer’s Association, said in a news release. “These data illuminate the importance of prenatal care and monitoring the long-term health of pregnant people. Those who experience any changes with their memory and cognition should discuss with their health care provider,” she said.

Heather Snyder, Ph.D., vice president of medical and scientific relations at the Alzheimer’s Association, says it is becoming clear there are things throughout life that may contribute to the risk for dementia.

Dementia risk is increased by pregnancy complications

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