Cardiologist Dr Clare Arnott from Royal Prince Alfred Hospital said women with pre-eclampsia faced a much higher risk of heart attacks and strokes. “Post-pregnancy women who have had pre-eclampsia have a 2-4 times increased risk of having high blood pressure in life, twice the risk of stroke or heart attack, and 1.5 times the risk of death,” she said. “Even more concerningly, we’re finding the disease occurs prematurely, up to a decade earlier.”
Yet few women are offered regular heart checks such as monitoring cholesterol and blood pressure, if they have had pre-eclampsia. Ms Dean needed robotic heart surgery to remove the blockage and then intensive cardiac rehabilitation. “I definitely think I am one of the lucky ones,” she said. Heart experts want more women to be aware of the risks of pre-eclampsia so they can avoid heart problems down the track. Dr Arnott said many people think of cardiovascular disease as a man’s disease, which is wrong. “It’s one of the leading killers of women in Australia and it takes the life of 22 women every day in Australia, so it’s a very big issue,” she said. Julie Anne Mitchell from the Heart Foundation said Australia’s healthcare professionals were excellent at handling pre-eclampsia and high blood pressure during pregnancy.”But we are concerned the care often stops there for
the mothers, when a focus on maintaining good heart health and regular check-ups over the coming years is essential for long-term health and
wellbeing,” she said. After months of cardiac rehabilitation, Ms Dean is getting on with life.

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