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.
- Cardiovascular risk
- Disease prevention
- Pregnancy complications
- Risk awareness