Pregnancy Loss and Later Risk of Atherosclerotic Disease
Background—Pregnancy losses and atherosclerotic disease may be etiologically linked through underlying pathology. We examined whether miscarriage and stillbirth increase later risk of myocardial infarction, cerebral infarction and renovascular hypertension.
Methods and Results—Among women pregnant at least once between 1977 and 2008, we identified a cohort of women with miscarriages, stillbirths and/or live singleton births. These women were followed from the end of pregnancy for incident myocardial infarction, cerebral infarction and renovascular hypertension. Using Poisson regression, we estimated incidence rate ratios for each of the outcomes by history of miscarriage and stillbirth. Among 1,031,279 women followed for more than 15,928,900 person-years, we identified 2,798 myocardial infarctions, 4,053 cerebral infarctions and 1,448 instances of renovascular hypertension. Women with stillbirths had 2.69 (95% confidence interval 2.06-3.50), 1.74 (1.32-2.28) and 2.42 (1.59-3.69) times the rates of myocardial infarction, cerebral infarction and renovascular hypertension, respectively, as women with no stillbirths. Compared with women with no miscarriages, women with miscarriages had 1.13 (1.03-1.24), 1.16 (1.07-1.25) and 1.20 (1.05-1.38) times the rates of these same outcomes, respectively; these associations were dose-dependent, with each additional miscarriage increasing the rates of myocardial and cerebral infarction and renovascular hypertension by 9% (3-16%), 13% (7-19%) and 19% (9-30%), respectively. Associations were strongest in younger women (<35 years).
Conclusions—Pregnancy losses were associated with subsequent risks of myocardial infarction, cerebral infarction and renovascular hypertension, consistent with either shared etiology or the initiation of pathological processes by a pregnancy loss leading to atherosclerosis.
- women's health
- pregnancy loss
- myocardial infarction
- renovascular hypertension
- Received December 25, 2012.
- Revision received March 12, 2013.
- Accepted March 20, 2013.