Hypertensive Disorders in Pregnancy and the Risk of Subsequent Cardiovascular Disease

Sonia M Grandi, Karine Vallée-Pouliot, Pauline Reynier, Maria Eberg, Robert W Platt, Roxane Arel, Olga Basso, Kristian B Filion
Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology 2017, 31 (5): 412-421

BACKGROUND: Hypertensive disorders in pregnancy (HDP) have been shown to predict later risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). However, previous studies have not accounted for subsequent pregnancies and their complications, which are potential confounders and intermediates of this association.

METHODS: A cohort of 146 748 women with a first pregnancy was constructed using the Clinical Practice Research Datalink. HDP was defined using diagnostic codes, elevated blood pressure readings, or new use of an anti-hypertensive drug between 18 weeks' gestation and 6 weeks post-partum. The study outcomes were incident CVD and hypertension. Marginal structural Cox models (MSM) were used to account for time-varying confounders and intermediates. Time-fixed exposure defined at the first pregnancy was used in secondary analyses.

RESULTS: A total of 997 women were diagnosed with incident CVD, and 6812 women were diagnosed with hypertension or received a new anti-hypertensive medication during the follow-up period. Compared with women without HDP, those with HDP had a substantially higher rate of CVD (hazard ratio (HR) 2.2, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.7, 2.7). In women with HDP, the rate of hypertension was five times that of women without a HDP (HR 5.6, 95% CI 5.1, 6.3). With overlapping 95% CIs, the time-fixed analysis and the MSM produced consistent results for both outcomes.

CONCLUSIONS: Women with HDP are at increased risk of developing subsequent CVD and hypertension. Similar estimates obtained with the MSM and the time-fixed analysis suggests that subsequent pregnancies do not confound a first episode of HDP and later CVD.

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