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Cutting mums’ blood pressure can save lives, study finds

Lowering a hypertensive mother’s blood pressure within six weeks after giving birth could significantly cut their future risk of a heart attack or stroke, NIHR-supported research has found.

Researchers also found that giving women blood pressure monitors and personalised advice led to lower blood pressure in this critical six-week window, and in the four years that followed.

Around one in ten women develop hypertension, or high blood pressure, during pregnancy. This significantly increases their risk of long-term high blood pressure, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke.

Elevated blood pressure after pregnancy can cause ‘remodelling’ of the mother’s heart and blood vessels. The team were interested in whether controlling high blood pressure in the six weeks after birth could help the mother’s heart and blood vessels ‘recover’ after a pregnancy complicated by high blood pressure.

Acting during this period could thereby ‘reset’ a woman’s blood pressure to pre-pregnancy levels and prevent harmful changes to her heart and circulatory system from becoming permanent.

A total 101 women took part in the study, including 53 at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, 28 at Royal Berkshire Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and 12 at Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust.

Read more on the University of Oxford website