Many women in the US, including those at high risk for heart disease, do not receive counseling about heart disease after giving birth, according to a study published in JAMA. Although women with pre-existing heart conditions or who experience complications during pregnancy are more likely to develop heart disease later in life, they are still less likely to receive heart health counseling.
Dr. Natalie Cameron and colleagues conducted a study to determine the percentage of US women at risk of heart disease development or poor pregnancy outcomes and who received postpartum heart health counseling from 2016-2020. The study included 167,705 women (weighted to 8,714,459) who attended a postpartum visit 4-6 weeks after delivery. The researchers observed that only 60% of individuals at risk of heart disease or adverse pregnancy outcomes receive heart health counseling after giving birth.
“Our data show that reports of overall counseling are low. For people who have risk factors, lifestyle counseling during this critical time is a first step to reducing long-term risk of heart disease,” said Dr. Cameron.
In addition, the researchers observed that the prevalence of counseling has decreased over the years. The decline was greater in women without heart disease risk (56.2-52.8%). For those with 1 risk factor, heart disease counseling declined from 58.5-57.3%. For those with ≥2 CVD risk factors, counseling declined from 61.9-59.8%.
“While the postpartum visit represents an opportunity to reach a large number of women, it is only the start,” Dr. Cameron said in the news release. “Health care systems must improve continuity of care after pregnancy and help women find clinicians who can provide preventive care. These can be obstetricians-gynecologists, primary care clinicians or cardiologists, depending on the patient’s needs and the clinician’s expertise.”
The researchers observed that the frequency of heart disease risk factors, such as being overweight, having diabetes or high blood pressure, and delivering preterm, increased between 2016 and 2020.
“In the midst of the growing public health crisis around maternal health, we also need to continue to increase awareness of the importance of long-term cardiovascular health monitoring and optimization among women with adverse pregnancy outcomes,” Dr. Cameron concluded.
Source: US News