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How does pregnancy affect heart health?
The birth of a child is a very exhausting process for the mother's body, which apparently does not remain without negative consequences when several children are born. Researchers have now found that women with more than one or two children are at significantly greater risk of developing a serious heart attack.
In their latest study, scientists from the internationally highly regarded University of Cambridge found that mothers of more than two children are up to 40 percent more likely to have a serious heart attack. The doctors published the results of their study at this year's British Cardiovascular Society Conference in Manchester.
Risk increases with the number of children
In the current investigation, it was observed that mothers with five or more children had the greatest risks of a serious heart attack. However, the risk of such a disease generally increases with every additional child, the researchers explain. Pregnancy and the subsequent birth are a huge burden on the heart. In addition, the stress and the demands on the mother increase when several children have to be raised and cared for, the doctors add.
How much was the risk increased?
If women have five or more children, this increases the risk of heart disease (the main cause of heart attacks) by 30 percent, the scientists report. In addition, the risk of stroke increases by 25 percent and the likelihood of heart failure is increased by 17 percent compared to women with only one or two children.
Parents from large families should protect their hearts
Hopefully, the results will help create greater motivation for parents of large families to take additional steps to protect the heart, such as eating healthy or exercising, the doctors say. Earlier studies had indicated that breastfeeding can protect the heart. However, the current study found that the additional risk of having multiple children cannot be fully offset by breastfeeding, the experts say.
The study had more than 8,000 participants
For their study, the scientists examined the data from more than 8,000 women from the United States. The participants were between the ages of 45 and 64 years. Women who have had an abortion in the past, either due to miscarriage or other factors, were also examined. These women had a 60 percent higher risk of heart disease than women who had only one or two children. The researchers explain that this is likely due to health issues that increase the risk of pregnancy loss, heart disease, and heart failure.
Many people do not survive a heart attack
Earlier research results were not conclusive about the relationship between heart health and the number of children a woman gave birth to, also because only a few factors such as heart disease and heart attacks were examined, the researchers explain. (as)