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Women with depression before or after childbirth are more at risk for cardiovascular disease

June 19, 2024  20:27

Perinatal depression, that is, depression during pregnancy or after childbirth, is thought to affect one in five women in labor worldwide. This is the first study of its kind to examine cardiovascular health after perinatal depression, and included data on approximately 600,000 women. The strongest links were found to the risk of high blood pressure, coronary heart disease and heart failure. The study was conducted by Dr. Emma Brenn, Dr. Donggao Lu and their colleagues at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm.

The study was based on the Swedish Medical Birth Registry, which records all births in the country. Researchers compared 55,539 Swedish women who were diagnosed with perinatal depression between 2001 and 2014 with another group of 545,567 Swedish women who also gave birth during that period but were not diagnosed with perinatal depression.

All women were followed up until 2020 to assess whether they developed any cardiovascular disease.

Among women with perinatal depression, 6.4% developed cardiovascular disease compared to 3.7% of women who did not have perinatal depression. This means that the risk of developing cardiovascular disease is 36% higher. Their risk of high blood pressure was about 50% higher, their risk of coronary heart disease about 37% higher, and their risk of heart failure about 36% higher.

"It remains unclear how and by what pathways perinatal depression leads to cardiovascular disease. We need more research to understand this and find the best ways to prevent depression and reduce cardiovascular disease risk," the researchers said.

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