Obese Moms at Greater Risk for Heart Attack After Giving Birth

obese pregnancy

If you’re pregnant or if you plan on becoming pregnant, it may be wise to achieve a healthier body weight. According to a new study conducted by the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, obese mothers are more likely to have a stroke or heart attack during labor. Specifically, the study found that four or five years after childbirth, obese moms have double the risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke in comparison to mothers of a normal body weight. All of the women involved in the study were approximately 30 years old. The researchers were careful to account for factors such as pregnancy complications and smoking habits when coming to their conclusions.

According to a professor from the University of Southern California, around 1 in every 16,000 pregnant women will suffer from a heart attack during the actual pregnancy term.

Obesity is Unhealthy No Matter Your Age

According to Michelle Schmiegelow, one of the lead researchers behind the study, women of all ages – even those who are young – should understand that obesity has many associated health risks, and that these risks can kick in relatively early in life.

At the same time, dramatic cardiovascular effects such as stroke and heart attack are rare among young women overall. Further, the study found a link of association (but not necessarily causation) between obesity and stroke/heart attack risk. In other words, the study does not support the notion that obesity caused the women in the study to have strokes and heart attacks directly. It should be noted that the study did not account for how much exercise each woman engaged in. It’s possible that this factor had a major influence on the results, since not all obese individuals have equal cardiovascular health.

More About the Study

A total of over 273,000 women were included in the study, all of whom were giving birth between the years of 2004 and 2009. None of the women had a history of heart disease or stroke. Further, none of the women had a history of kidney problems or other health problems aside from obesity.

The researchers divided the women into separate groups depending on their body mass index, or BMI, a comparison of height and weight intended to estimate an individual’s body fat percentage. A total of 175 women in the study suffered a stroke during the 5-year study period, while 68 suffered a heart attack.

You might wonder why the study was only conducted on women who had recently given birth. In fact, the researchers believe that the results of the study may apply to women universally and not just those who have recently had a baby. However, a separate study would need to be conducted in order to confirm this notion.

Heart Attack During Labor: The Bottom Line

Women who have recently given birth are up to twice as likely to have a stroke or heart attack if they’re obese, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Copenhagen.

Although the study has yet to receive publication, it was recently discussed at the annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology in San Francisco.

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