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Preeclampsia linked with higher risk of preterm delivery and later-life vascular disease

study randomized women into two groups, who received either 60 milligrams of aspirin, an anti-inflammatory drug, or a placebo daily. Early results of the study indicate that low-dose aspirin may lessen this inflammatory response.

In another study, Roberta Ness, M.D., M.P.H., associate professor of epidemiology and obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and her colleagues found that women who have had preeclampsia may continue to be at increased risk for vascular-related disease throughout their lives.

Working with graduate student Patricia Agatisa, Dr. Ness studied stress heart rate, blood pressure and forearm blood flow in pregnant women who had a prior preeclampsia, women with normal pregnancies and never-pregnant women. Investigators found that having a normal pregnancy is associated with a positive long-term effect on blood vessel behavior that is not present in women who had a previous preeclamptic pregnancy or in those who had never been pregnant.

The absence of this effect may point to increased risk for hypertension and cardiovascular disease later in life, Dr. Ness noted.

Women who have previously experienced preeclampsia, also known as toxemia and characterized by high blood pressure, swollen ankles and the presence of protein in the urine, have an even greater chance of developing the disorder in subsequent pregnancies. Other risk factors include maternal age of less than 25 or more than 35 years and preexisting hypertension, diabetes or kidney disease.

"Preeclampsia is one of the leading causes of maternal, fetal and neonatal disability and death," said Dr. Roberts.


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Contact: Michele Baum
412-647-3555
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
3-Jun-2002


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