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Young moms more likely to develop heart disease: study

The team analyzed data on more than 100,000 women across the world.

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By Mark Waghorn via SWNS

Young moms are more likely to develop heart disease and strokes according to new research.

An earlier first birth, having a high number of children and starting periods earlier increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, the world's number one killer.

Lead author Dr. Maddalena Ardissino said: "This study shows a clear link between reproductive factors and cardiovascular disease.

"These findings highlight the need for doctors to monitor these risk factors closely in women and intervene where needed."

It provides evidence for one of the causes - opening the door to improved therapies for irregular heartbeats, coronary heart disease, heart failure and stroke.

The Imperial College London team hopes their findings will help doctors understand and monitor vulnerable patients - and intervene where appropriate.

They analyzed data on more than 100,000 women across the world using a statistical technique called Mendelian Randomisation.

(Omar Lopez via Unsplash)

It identifies genetic variants linked to potential risk factors. There was no association with age at menopause.

The researchers also found much of the increased risk from early first periods resulted from being overweight.

Lowering a girl's BMI (body mass index) could be protective. The increased risk for earlier first birth could be partly limited by acting on traditional cardiometabolic risk factors such as BMI, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

Dr. Ardissino said: "Women are often mischaracterized as being at low risk for cardiovascular disease, leading to delays in diagnosis.

"Even when they are diagnosed, they tend to receive less targeted treatment than men.

"This doesn’t mean women should worry if they've had their period at a young age - or if they had an early first birth.

"Our research shows the additional risk of cardiovascular disease can be minimized if traditional risk factors like BMI and blood pressure are well-controlled."

(Freestocks via Unsplash)

The US teen birth rate (births per 1,000 females aged 15 to 19 years) has been declining since 1991.  Teen birth rates continued to decline from 17.4 per 1,000 females in 2018 to 16.7 per 1,000 females in 2019, according to the CDC.

Senior author Dr. Fu Siong Ng said: "Many of the previous studies on cardiovascular disease have focused on men.

"But our research shows there are sex-specific factors that influence the risk for women.

"We cannot say exactly how much these factors increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.

"Our study shows reproductive history is important. It points towards a causal impact.

"We need to understand more about these factors to make sure women get the best possible care."

Further research is needed to understand the extent of the relationship between reproductive factors and cardiovascular disease risk.

Cardiovascular disease has often been thought of as a man’s disease as men are more likely to develop it at an earlier age. However, it's also a serious problem for women.

Over 60 million women (44%) in the United States are living with some form of heart disease, according to the CDC. It is the leading cause of death for women in the United States.

Dr. Sonya Babu-Narayan, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, said: "The misconception cardiovascular disease mostly affects men is costing women their health - and even their lives.

"It's critical women are empowered with the knowledge of what could put them at higher risk of developing heart disease or stroke in the future.

"This includes the well-known risks that affect everyone. But for women, there may be additional risk factors from their reproductive years to add to the list.

"If we're going to save more women's lives asking about periods and pregnancy must be routine when assessing every woman's risk of heart disease and stroke."

The study is in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

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