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Preeclampsia as a major independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease

Heart Research Institute & Western Sydney University

  • Cardiovascular Senior Researcher Grant
Organ System:
  • Cardiovascular
Date Funded:
  • 22 May, 2020
Chief Investigator/s:
  • Professor Angela Makris

Project summary

What is it about preeclampsia that makes for cardiovascular risk, and is it preventable?

What is the issue for NSW?

There are some very common events in pregnancy that unmask a women’s future cardiovascular profile. The amount and severity of high blood pressure in any given pregnancy are directly related to both pregnancy (and baby) outcomes and provide an insight into the risk of future cardiovascular disease for the woman. If a woman has hypertension in pregnancy, her risk is two-fold for developing future cardiovascular disease. This risk is equivalent to the risk of smoking for future heart attack and stroke.

What does the research aim to do and how?

While we can do something in public health terms to prevent smoking, the way to predict and manage the events of pregnancy are yet to be fully explored for women. If we can prevent or control high blood pressure in pregnancy, then the favourable impact to women’s cardiovascular risk would be equivalent to that of stopping smoking.

The strategy within the teams’ grasp is to provide novel treatment that has been trailed in the lab, to treat those in the throes of preeclampsia (the most severe form of high blood pressure in pregnancy). This builds on the teams’ work in establishing a clear diagnosis of preeclampsia, and in developing a prediction model for high risk women.