Having pre-eclampsia — dangerously high blood pressure during pregnancy — is linked to an increased risk for dementia later in life, according to a new study.
Up to 5 percent of pregnant women develop pre-eclampsia, usually after the 20th week. In addition to hypertension, the condition can include signs of diminished kidney or liver function.
Researchers followed the 1,178,005 Danish women who had given birth between 1978 and 2015. More than 58,000 of them had pre-eclampsia during pregnancy. The study is in BMJ.
Having pre-eclampsia doubled the risk for vascular dementia, and quadrupled the risk for women over 65. There was a modest association of pre-eclampsia with Alzheimer’s disease, and none with any other type of dementia.“My advice to a woman who has had pre-eclampsia is the same for dementia as it would be for cardiovascular risk,” said the senior author, Heather A. Boyd, a researcher at the Statens Serum Institut in Copenhagen. “Get the hypertension down, get the weight within normal range, work on lowering the risk for Type 2 diabetes. We still need to confirm this finding in other populations, and then we need to figure out what to do about it. We don’t know at this point what the intervention should be.”