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Risk of Cardiovascular Disease Among Postmenopausal Women with Prior Pregnancy Loss: The Women’s Health Initiative

Metabolic, hormonal, and hemostatic changes associated with pregnancy loss (stillbirth and miscarriage) may contribute to the development of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in adulthood. This study evaluated prospectively the association between a history of pregnancy loss and CVD in a cohort of postmenopausal women. Postmenopausal women (77,701) were evaluated from 1993-1998. Information on baseline reproductive history, sociodemographic, and CVD risk factors were collected. The associations between 1 or 2 or more miscarriages and 1 or more stillbirths with occurrence of CVD were evaluated using multiple logistic regression. Among 77,701 women in the study sample, 23,538 (30.3%) reported a history of miscarriage; 1,670 (2.2%) reported a history of stillbirth; and 1,673 (2.2%) reported a history of both miscarriage and stillbirth. Multivariable-adjusted odds ratio (OR) for coronary heart disease (CHD) for 1 or more stillbirths was 1.27 (95% CI, 1.07-1.51) compared with no stillbirth; for women with a history of 1 miscarriage, the OR=1.19 (95% CI, 1.08-1.32); and for 2 or more miscarriages the OR=1.18 (95% CI, 1.04-1.34) compared with no miscarriage. For ischemic stroke, the multivariable odds ratio for stillbirths and miscarriages was not significant. Pregnancy loss was associated with CHD but not ischemic stroke. Women with a history of 1 or more stillbirths or 1 or more miscarriages appear to be at increased risk of future CVD and should be considered candidates for closer surveillance and/or early intervention; research is needed into better understanding the pathophysiologic mechanisms behind the increased risk of CVD associated with pregnancy loss.

Authors: Parker DR; Lu B; Sands-Lincoln M; Kroenke CH; Lee CC; O'Sullivan M; Park HL; Parikh N; Schenken RS; Eaton CB

Ann Fam Med. 2014 Jul;12(4):302-9.

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