Understanding the higher risk of cardiovascular disease after complicated pregnancies
Researchers are testing an antibody to improve blood vessel function that could help women with pre-eclampsia
Pre-eclampsia is a significant cause of sickness and death for mothers and children worldwide, affecting five to eight per cent of all pregnancies. Additionally, pre-eclampsia doubles the risk of heart disease and stroke for women — their children also have an increased risk of developing cardiovascular diseases later in life.
Unfortunately, we still do not know what causes pre-eclampsia and how it evolves, although we do know that excessive cholesterol increases the risk of this pregnancy complication. During pregnancy, women have higher levels of cholesterol, needed for hormone production as well as growth and development of the baby. However, in some women, cholesterol levels rise too much and this can result in pre-eclampsia.
“I hope that by understanding the underlying mechanisms of pregnancies complicated by excessive cholesterol it will reveal a new way to reduce the burden of pregnancy complications, which consequently will improve the lives of women and children,” says researcher Amanda Almeida de Oliveira, a WCHRI postdoctoral fellow supervised by Sandra Davidge in the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology.