Women who have given birth to five or more children are 38% more likely to have a heart attack than those who have only had one or two pregnancies.
New research from the Universities of Cambridge and North Carolina found that women who gave birth to five or more children were 38% more likely to have a heart attack than those who had only one or two pregnancies.
“The purpose of my research is not to scare women, but to get their attention as soon as possible about the increased risk of heart attack,” said lead author Clare Oliver-Williams. “We know that pregnancy and childbirth put a strain on the heart and that raising children can also be very stressful.”
25% more likely to have a stroke
8,583 women aged 45 to 64 were followed for 30 years.The research also showed that women with five or more children were 25% more likely to have a stroke, and 17% more likely to suffer from a stroke. Another interesting fact is that miscarriages have significantly increased the rates of heart disease and heart failure among women in the cohort.
Duration of breastfeeding
The statistical analysis was adjusted to take into account many other factors known to affect women’s health, including age, socioeconomic status, smoking, and the use of contraceptive pills, the woman’s age at the time of first pregnancy and the duration of breastfeeding, with previous studies linking breastfeeding to improved cardiovascular health.
“While it may not be surprising that having more children may mean that mothers have less time to look after their own health, this research shows how important it is to keep an eye on their heart health,” commented Professor Jeremy Pearson, Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation. “Research like this reminds us that heart disease affects both men and women,” he concluded.