Is your blood pressure elevated? If you’re thinking about becoming pregnant or in the early stages of a pregnancy, it could cause pregnancy loss.
A study in the American Heart Association’s journal Hypertension looked at blood pressure in 1,228 healthy women at an average age of 28.7. The women had experienced one to two pregnancy losses and were trying to get pregnant. They were part of a trial to examine if low-dose aspirin could reduce miscarriage.
“Elevated blood pressure among young adults is associated with a higher risk of heart disease later in life, and this study suggests it may also have an effect on reproductive health,” said Carrie J. Nobles, Ph.D., lead author of the study—also a postdoctoral fellow in the Epidemiology Branch of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute for Child Health and Human Development (NICHD).
Authors say the study cannot determine if elevated blood pressure causes the pregnancy loss, but they seem linked.
Researchers looked at the women’s blood pressure when they were trying to conceive and when they became pregnant. The average blood pressure prior to pregnancy was 111.6 mm Hg /72.5 mm Hg. Of the 797 women who conceived within six months, 24 percent of them had a miscarriage.
Why Your Numbers Matter
The researchers say that for every 10-point increase in diastolic blood pressure (lower number), the pregnancy loss risk went up 18 percent. For every 10-point increase in mean arterial pressure, which is an average of the lower and higher numbers, women had a 17 percent increased risk of pregnancy loss.
“The impact of cardiovascular risk factors starts really early in life. Physicians treating women of reproductive age should pay attention to slightly elevated blood pressure because it may have other not-well-recognized effects, such as adverse pregnancy outcome,” said Enrique F. Schisterman, Ph.D., a senior author.
“Preconception is a previously unrecognized critical window for intervention such as lifestyle changes that can help prevent later heart disease and may also improve reproductive health.”
While the study didn’t produce any definitive result, it gives us a good kick in the butt to ensure that we’re taking care of blood pressure levels—especially if you’re thinking of having a child.