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GDM points toward heightened risk of heart disease

Women who have gestational diabetes mellitus during pregnancy have a higher than usual risk of developing type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and ischemic heart disease in the future…

GDM

Women who have gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) during pregnancy have a higher than usual risk of developing type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and ischemic heart disease in the future, according to a retrospective cohort study published from the University of Birmingham, UK.

Rates of GDM are increasing in most developed countries, and previous research has found that women diagnosed with GDM have an increased lifetime risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

The findings add an important insight into the trajectory of the development of type 2 diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease in the early and latter post-partum periods

In the new study, researchers studied the incidence of type 2 diabetes, hypertension and ischemic heart and cerebrovascular diseases in a UK primary care database that included more than 9,000 women diagnosed with GDM between 1990 and 2016.

Women diagnosed with GDM were over 20 times more likely to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes later in life, over two and a half times more likely to develop ischemic heart disease and almost twice as likely to develop hypertension.

Although current guidelines recommend annual screening for diabetes in women diagnosed with GDM, the study also found that follow-up screening for diabetes as well as cardiovascular risk factors was low, with the exception of blood pressure; less than 60% of women were screened in the first year post-partum and rates declined thereafter.

“The findings add an important insight into the trajectory of the development of type 2 diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease in the early and latter post-partum periods,” said Dr Krishnarajah Nirantharakumar and colleagues. “Furthermore, the findings are the first to report on a large UK population and identify an at-risk group of relatively young women ideally suited for targeting risk factor management to improve long-term metabolic and cardiovascular outcomes.”

The study has been published in PLOS Medicine.

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