December 2, 2016
Pregnancy and the Future of Maternal Cardiovascular Disease

As we continue to learn more about future health outcomes and associated medical diagnoses during pregnancy, it's hard to be encouraged. Our goal is to always first present the facts as we know them today (knowing full well there is a frontier to medicine that is ever changing). Secondly we want to pass along information that is meant to help shift away from a potentially dire outcome to a preventative way of living.

Does it take more time? Absolutely.

Do you need extra love and support? Always.

But does it prevent disease? More often than not, with a resounding yes!
My morning worm hole today included reading into the future of cardiovascular disease risk and its association with the two most common diagnoses of pregnancy, preeclampsia (and pregnancy-induced hypertension) and gestational diabetes.

 
Preeclampsia and Cardiovascular Risk

According to an Ontario based study conducted from 1990-2004 involving 1 million women. If a woman presented with a history of preeclampsia then that woman had double the risk of premature cardiovascular disease events including: stroke, coronary heart diease, peripheral artery disease. And that risk tripled if the fetus passed away or showed impaired growth during pregnancy. Further more we now know that women with a history of preeclampsia have more than double the risk of developing chronic hypertension in the future.

 
Gestational Diabetes and Association with Cardiovascular and Chronic Disease Risk

According to the CDC in 2014, 1 in 10 women have gestational diabetes. In a Lancet study completed in 2009, if you have ever had gestational diabetes there was a 7-fold increased risk of developing diabetes within the first 5 years of pregnancy and a four-fold increased risk of diabetes doubling after 5 years postpartum.

 
What To Do

1) Aim for colorful veggies and fruit throughout the day. Don't worry about quantity at first, just aim for consumption at every meal (and yes veggies taste good in an egg scramble).
2) Potassium rich foods are critical to include: bananas, pumpkin, avocado, crimini mushrooms, dark leafy greens, winter squash, and tomatoes.
3) Magnesium and L-arginine are invaluable co-factors for blood pressure and blood sugar balance: dark chocolate, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, dark leafy greens, basil, cucumbers, green beans, spirulina, turkey, and peanuts.
4) Consider an L-carnitine supplement: research shows that 2,000mg a day is associated with decreased risk of development of gestational diabetes.
5) Move your body. No good comes from being an "active couch potato" (someone who works out 60 minutes per day, but sits the rest of the time). On the hour stand up, do 20 squats, stretch, walk around your house, the office, or a park close by. Include movement daily if possible to help decrease imbalance in your blood pressure and blood sugar.

 

The proliferation of global chronic disease can most readily be reversed in the preventative time period of pregnancy. There is never a more opportune time to address your lifetime health and the health of your baby than in the perinantal time period.

 

Changing the world one Mama and Baby at a time. And yes, that means we believe it you!

 

Sources
Lancet Article: http://www.thelancet.com/…/PIIS0140-6736(09)60731-5/abstract
USNews.com Article February 2016: Pregnancy and the Heart: a Difficult Pregnancy May Warn of Future Cardiovascular Risk