MADISON (WKOW) -- Women who suffer from complications while pregnant or after giving birth, could be at increased risk of heart disease later in life.
Benina Caviggiola knows this all too well.
She was diagnosed with hypertension in her first pregnancy and again after giving birth to her second child in March.
Her warning signs started with headaches.
"I ended up having to go to the ER for my blood pressure. It got high enough that they wanted to test my liver and my chest pain they were worried about, so they did a heart workup. Then after that, they put me on blood pressure medications twice a day," said Benina.
She was eventually able to wean off the medication, but she has to stay on top of any symptoms she might feel in the future.
They include high blood pressure during pregnancy, gestational diabetes, preterm delivery, small-for-gestational age delivery, pregnancy loss or placental abruption.
Dr. Kara Hoppe is a maternal fetal medicine specialist with UW Health. She says heart disease and stroke account for more than one in three of the roughly 700 deaths in the United States each year due to pregnancy related complications. "It underlines the need for early prevention and treatment of these risk factors. Primary prevention of cardiovascular disease for women who experience these complications, as they transition out of pregnancy and postpartum care are really important. It's important to highlight the need for a long term primary care and follow up."
The American Heart Association also notes, Black, Asian and Hispanic women are more likely than White women to experience adverse pregnancy outcomes and more research is needed to address these disparities.