Young women suffering from hypertension are at an increased risk of heart failure within the six weeks after delivery, also known as the postpartum period, according to a study. Heart failure is a leading cause of maternal morbidity and death, affecting relatively young reproductive-age women, especially among those with the presence of an additional disease or condition, such as hypertension.
The study found that although less than 2% of all pregnancy-related hospitalisations occurred during the postpartum period, nearly 60% of pregnancy-related heart failure hospitalisations took place during the same time.
“This finding lends support to using delivery-related hospitalisation as a window of opportunity to identify high-risk women and develop surveillance strategies before discharge,” said Mulubrhan Mogos, Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois in Chicago.
In the study, published in the journal Circulation: Heart Failure, the team analysed more than 50 million pregnancy-related hospitalisations in the US. The results showed that there was a 7.1% increase each year in heart failure diagnoses among postpartum hospitalisations.
In addition, heart failure rates during the antepartum period, or prior to delivery, increased by an average of 4.9% per year, which can be attributed to the presence of high blood pressure, diabetes, or other risk factors or conditions the women had before becoming pregnant.
Typically, women are discharged from the hospital within two to three days after delivery and are not evaluated by their health care providers again until six weeks later. Hence, the researchers highlighted the need for close monitoring of high-risk women before they are discharged from the hospital after giving birth and through the postpartum period.