Women's awareness of cardiovascular disease risk after complications of pregnancy

Emily Aldridge, Maleesa Pathirana, Melanie Wittwer, Susan Sierp, Claire T. Roberts, Gustaaf A. Dekker, Margaret Arstall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Certain maternal complications of pregnancy, including hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, gestational diabetes mellitus, birth of a growth restricted infant, idiopathic preterm labour, and placental abruption, are associated with a significantly increased risk of future maternal cardiovascular disease. In Australia, it is relatively unknown how many women with a history of complicated pregnancies are aware of their future cardiovascular disease risk.

Aim: The aim of this study was to determine what percentage of women attending a cardiovascular disease prevention clinic in South Australia soon after a complicated pregnancy were aware of their increased risk of cardiovascular disease. 

Methods: This prospective observational study included 188 women attending a postpartum prevention clinic between 7th August 2018 and 10th February 2021. These women had experienced a serious maternal complication of pregnancy approximately seven months earlier. Women completed a self-administered health awareness survey immediately prior to their first clinic appointment to assess their awareness of their increased cardiovascular risk. 

Findings: Over two-thirds (69.1 %) of the women were unaware of the association between pregnancy complications and cardiovascular disease, and 6.4 % of the cohort did not realise they had experienced a complicated pregnancy. Almost 10 % of the cohort did not correctly identify the complication/s they had been diagnosed with during pregnancy. 

Conclusion: Awareness of the association between complications of pregnancy and future cardiovascular disease was low in our cohort of women who had experienced a complication of pregnancy only seven months earlier. This emphasises the need for improved education for and communication with women to assist in implementing preventative care strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages6
JournalWomen and Birth
Early online date11 Oct 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 11 Oct 2022


  • Cardiovascular risk
  • Disease prevention
  • Pregnancy complications
  • Risk awareness
  • Women


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