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Risk of cardiovascular disease among postmenopausal women with prior pregnancy loss: the women's health initiative.

  • Author(s): Parker, Donna R;
  • Lu, Bing;
  • Sands-Lincoln, Megan;
  • Kroenke, Candyce H;
  • Lee, Cathy C;
  • O'Sullivan, Mary;
  • Park, Hannah L;
  • Parikh, Nisha;
  • Schenken, Robert S;
  • Eaton, Charles B
  • et al.

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Metabolic, hormonal, and hemostatic changes associated with pregnancy loss (stillbirth and miscarriage) may contribute to the development of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in adulthood. This study evaluated prospectively the association between a history of pregnancy loss and CVD in a cohort of postmenopausal women.


Postmenopausal women (77,701) were evaluated from 1993-1998. Information on baseline reproductive history, sociodemographic, and CVD risk factors were collected. The associations between 1 or 2 or more miscarriages and 1 or more stillbirths with occurrence of CVD were evaluated using multiple logistic regression.


Among 77,701 women in the study sample, 23,538 (30.3%) reported a history of miscarriage; 1,670 (2.2%) reported a history of stillbirth; and 1,673 (2.2%) reported a history of both miscarriage and stillbirth. Multivariable-adjusted odds ratio (OR) for coronary heart disease (CHD) for 1 or more stillbirths was 1.27 (95% CI, 1.07-1.51) compared with no stillbirth; for women with a history of 1 miscarriage, the OR=1.19 (95% CI, 1.08-1.32); and for 2 or more miscarriages the OR=1.18 (95% CI, 1.04-1.34) compared with no miscarriage. For ischemic stroke, the multivariable odds ratio for stillbirths and miscarriages was not significant.


Pregnancy loss was associated with CHD but not ischemic stroke. Women with a history of 1 or more stillbirths or 1 or more miscarriages appear to be at increased risk of future CVD and should be considered candidates for closer surveillance and/or early intervention; research is needed into better understanding the pathophysiologic mechanisms behind the increased risk of CVD associated with pregnancy loss.

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