More women are having heart attacks during pregnancy or within the first two months after giving birth. According to a study done by the New York University School of Medicine, the number of women having heart attacks increased by 25 percent between 2002 and 2014.
The researchers followed 49 million women who had given birth. They found that 1,061 women had heart attacks during birth. Nine hundred and twenty-two women were hospitalized during pregnancy due to a heart attack. Additionally, 2,390 women had heart attacks during the first two months after birth.
In 2002, heart attacks occurred in 7.1 out of 100,000 pregnancies. That number increased to 9.4 out of 100,000 in 2014. Researchers have several theories that explain why more pregnant women are having heart attacks. Women are waiting longer to have children. Women who are between the ages of 35 and 39 are five times more likely to have a heart attack than a woman in her 20s. A woman in her 40s is 10 times more likely to have a heart attack than a woman in her 20s.
Lifestyle factors can also contribute to this. Obesity and diabetes rates have risen drastically over the past couple of decades. Many women do not know that they have a preexisting condition that makes pregnancy more risky.
Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum is the director of Women’s Cardiovascular Health at Mt. Sinai Health. She stated that 80 percent of heart attacks are caused by lifestyle choices. Some women may be at a higher risk for having a heart attack while pregnant. However, there are still ways that this can be prevented.
Dr. Steinbaum recommends that women manage their risk factors and make healthy lifestyle choices. This not only keeps women healthy during pregnancy, but it also keeps them healthy for the rest of their lives.