According to a new study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, women diagnosed with depression during pregnancy are at an increased risk of being diagnosed with cardiovascular disease within two years following childbirth compared to individuals without depression.
The adverse impacts of depression on cardiovascular health have been well-studied among the general population. In fact, men and women who are depressed are more likely to develop heart disease later on in life.
Past research has also found that approximately 20% of women suffer from depression during pregnancy.
But, there has been little research studying prenatal depression as a distinct cardiovascular disease risk factor.
“We need to use pregnancy as a window to future health,” advocated Christina M. Ackerman-Banks, the study’s lead author.
“Complications during pregnancy, including prenatal depression, impact long-term cardiovascular health. The postpartum period provides an opportunity to counsel and screen people for cardiovascular disease in order to prevent these outcomes.”
This research represents the first population-based study that focuses on investigating the association between prenatal depression and postpartum cardiovascular disease diagnosis within two years following childbirth.
For this feat, the team used the Maine Health Data Organization’s All Payer Claims Database to analyze data from more than 100,000 women who gave birth in the state of Maine from 2007 to 2019. The researchers’ goal was to approximate the cumulative risk of cardiovascular disease diagnosis within two years after giving birth.
The team took into account other potentially confounding factors– including age at the time of delivery, smoking, pre-pregnancy depression, pre-pregnancy diabetes, pre-pregnancy hypertension, as well as preeclampsia– and adjusted accordingly.