The Sunday Post (Newcastle)

Women urged to get health checks over risk from high blood pressure

New research will monitor pregnancie­s

- By Janet Boyle

Women should use the milestones in life like pregnancy, menopause and retirement to get a body MOT for heart health, a Glasgow University professor has said.

Professor Christian Delles believes it would diagnose health conditions which cause heart attacks and strokes – two major health events women are less likely than men to survive well.

High blood pressure raises the risk of heart attacks and strokes. It can also trigger vascular dementia.

Only one third of people with high blood pressure are detected before it begins to impact on their health, Prof Delles warns. “Milestones like childbirth, the menopause, retirement­s and getting a state pension should be times for women have their blood pressure and cholestero­l levels checked out,” he said.

“One in three people with high blood pressure are diagnosed and a third of those have it successful­ly lowered by drugs we call antihypert­ensives. No one should wait until they have a stroke before they get high blood pressure treated.”

Around half of strokes and heart attacks are caused by high blood pressure in women.

Women at greater risk of high blood pressure include those who have suffered a pregnancy condition called pre-eclampsia.

It affects 10% of mothers and they go on to have a higher risk of heart attacks and strokes within seven years of childbirth and indeed a lifelong increase, cardiologi­sts say,

Mothers with pre-eclampsia often have their babies delivered prematurel­y to save their lives and those of their babies. If it goes untreated, it can cause organ failure and seizures in those women.

Prof Delles’ department is taking part in pioneering UK research called the Poppy Study (Pharmacoki­netic and clinical observatio­ns in people over fifty). It will look at why some women develop pre-eclampsia and problems with placentas during pregnancy and whether it effects their long-term health.

This world-first research will include up to 3,500 first-time mums who will be monitored before, during and after their first pregnancy.

It’s hoped that by understand­ing this risk, the health of women who develop these complicati­ons can also be improved over their lifetime.

Prof Delles said: “It is very welcome study which we hope will tell us much more about why some women develop placental conditions and others don’t. We have a meeting with collaborat­ors on the Poppy study next week and spreading the word is on our agenda.”

The research is welcomed by mums like Adele Davidson, who suffered pre-eclampsia while she was pregnant with her baby son, Odin.

She said: “I became seriously ill and had to deliver my baby boy early to save both our lives. It was quite a frightenin­g experience and one I would want to avoid in future.

“If cardiologi­sts and obstetrici­ans suspect a life-long higher risk of heart attacks and strokes, then the Poppy research is very much welcomed.

“Health MOTs throughout milestones in life are a good idea, especially for mothers who have had pre-eclampsia. We are talking about a considerab­le number of women, when we know that 10% are affected by pre-eclampsia.”

More than 47,000 babies were born in Scotland last year.

Poppy Study leader, Dr Bernadette Jenner, obstetrici­an and clinical pharmacolo­gist at Cambridge University Hospitals, said: “This study is going to be monitoring thousands of women from before they become pregnant for the first time and will track them through to birth and beyond.

“We are trying to discover why some develop placental conditions and others don’t. We also hope to find out whether these conditions trigger longer-term health issues such as heart disease and diabetes. “This study hopes to find answers.” The research is endorsed by maternity campaignin­g charity Action on Pre-eclampsia. Its chief executive, Marcus Green, said: “Pre-eclampsia can be devastatin­g for mothers and babies and we have successful­ly campaigned for diagnostic tests in pregnancy to alert obstetrici­ans, and allow them to intervene to help save lives. Research which tells cardiologi­sts more about life-long impacts.”

 ?? ?? Adele Davidson, with son Odin, welcomed the new research.
Adele Davidson, with son Odin, welcomed the new research.

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