Pre-eclampsia and Cardiovascular Disease Risk Assessment in Women

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The underlying contributors of many cardiovascular events are often present decades before the onset of clinical symptoms, and the presence of risk factors in early life significantly influences risk of premature cardiovascular disease (CVD). The considerable burden of CVD in women and on health care resources necessitates an emphasis on prevention and early risk screening in women, before the development of the disease itself. The 2011 update to the American Heart Association's Effectiveness-Based Guidelines for the prevention of CVD acknowledges the contribution of the common pregnancy-related medical complications to a woman's cardiovascular risk, identifying pre-eclampsia (PE), gestational hypertension, and gestational diabetes mellitus as risk factors for heart disease and stroke. The aims of this review are to examine risk factors in young women and their role in the development of premature CVD, with particular attention paid to PE as a marker of a woman's cardiovascular risk. Current screening practices will be discussed, as will their influences on identifying and reducing cardiovascular risk and subsequent disease in younger women.

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