High blood pressure can be a problem for some moms in pregnancy. Now it looks as though it might also indicate problems for the mom's siblings.
Researchers from the Mayo Clinic found that siblings of women who have high blood pressure during pregnancy may face heart and blood pressure risks. Both brothers and sisters had increased high blood pressure risk. Brothers, but not sisters, had an increased risk of heart disease.
Study co-leaders Tracey Weissgerber, PhD, and Vesna Garovic, MD, of the Mayo Clinic, led a team to assess the relationships among siblings of pregnant women with high blood pressure.
“We wanted to isolate the effect of high blood pressure during pregnancy by comparing the risk of hypertension, heart disease, and stroke in women who had hypertension during pregnancy, and their sisters,” explained Dr. Garovic. “We also wanted to determine whether heart disease risk was increased in brothers and sisters of women who had hypertension in pregnancy.”
Drs. Weissgerber, Garovic and colleagues studied 919 men and 1,477 women. Together, the study participants formed 954 sibling groups.
Women who have high blood pressure during pregnancy have an increased risk of both future high blood pressure and heart disease.
These researchers first compared women who had normal blood pressure during pregnancy with their sisters who had high blood pressure during pregnancy. Women who had high blood pressure during pregnancy were 75 percent more likely than those with normal blood pressure to develop high blood pressure as they got older.
Sisters of women with high blood pressure in pregnancy were 15 percent more likely to develop high blood pressure themselves as they aged, compared to those whose siblings did not have high blood pressure during pregnancy. Brothers of women with high blood pressure in pregnancy were 24 percent more likely to develop high blood pressure as they got older.
Brothers, but not sisters, of women with high blood pressure in pregnancy were more likely to have heart disease later in life.
“The increased risk of high blood pressure in siblings suggests that family history contributes to the increased risk of high blood pressure in women during pregnancy; however, women who had high blood pressure in pregnancy were still more likely to develop high blood pressure later in life than their sisters who had normal blood pressure in pregnancy,” Dr. Weissgerber said. “Further studies are needed to determine whether this increased risk in women who had high blood pressure in pregnancy is due to stronger genetic predisposition to high blood pressure, other risk factors, or lasting damage caused by high blood pressure in pregnancy.”
This study was published Aug. 27 in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute on Aging funded this research.
The authors disclosed no conflicts of interest.