A history of preeclampsia is associated with a risk for coronary artery calcification 3 decades later

Wendy M. White, Michelle M. Mielke, Philip A. Araoz, Brian D. Lahr, Kent R. Bailey, Muthuvel Jayachandran, Virginia M. Miller, Vesna D. Garovic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


Background A history of preeclampsia is an independent risk factor for cardiac events and stroke. Changes in vasculature structure that contribute to these associations are not well understood. Objective The aim of this study was to quantify coronary artery calcification (CAC), a known risk factor for cardiac events, in a prospective cohort of women with and without histories of preeclampsia. Study Design Women without prior cardiovascular events (40 with and 40 without histories of preeclampsia, matched for parity and age at index birth) were recruited from a large population-based cohort of women who were residents of Olmsted County, Minnesota, and who delivered from 1976 through 1982. Computed tomography was performed to measure CAC in Agatston units. All pregnancy histories and covariates were confirmed by review of the medical records. Current clinical variables were assessed at the time of imaging. Differences between women with and without histories of preeclampsia were examined using χ2 tests and tests; CAC, in particular, was compared as a categorical and ordinal variable, with a χ2 test and with Wilcoxon 2-sample tests and ordinal logistic regression, as appropriate. Results Mean age (SD) at imaging was 59.5 (±4.6) years. Systolic and diastolic blood pressures, hyperlipidemia, and current diabetes status did not differ between women with and without histories of preeclampsia. However, the frequencies of having a current clinical diagnosis of hypertension (60% vs 20%, P <.001) and higher body mass index in kg/m2 (expressed as median [25th-75th percentile], 29.8 [25.9-33.7] vs 25.3 [23.1-32.0], P =.023) were both greater in the women with histories of preeclampsia compared to those without. The frequency of a CAC score >50 Agatston units was also greater in the preeclampsia group (23% vs 0%, P =.001). Compared to women without preeclampsia, the odds of having a higher CAC score was 3.54 (confidence interval [CI], 1.39-9.02) times greater in women with prior preeclampsia without adjustment, and 2.61 (CI, 0.95-7.14) times greater after adjustment for current hypertension. After adjustment for body mass index alone, the odds of having a higher CAC based on a history of preeclampsia remained significant at 3.20 (CI, 1.21-8.49). Conclusion In this first prospective cohort study with confirmation of preeclampsia by medical record review, a history of preeclampsia is associated with an increased risk of CAC >30 years after affected pregnancies, even after controlling individually for traditional risk factors. A history of preeclampsia should be considered in risk assessment when initiating primary prevention strategies to reduce cardiovascular disease in women. Among women with histories of preeclampsia, the presence of CAC may be able to identify those at a particularly high cardiovascular risk, and should be the subject of future studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)519.e1-519.e8
JournalAmerican journal of obstetrics and gynecology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016


  • cardiovascular disease
  • hypertension
  • preeclampsia
  • pregnancy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


Dive into the research topics of 'A history of preeclampsia is associated with a risk for coronary artery calcification 3 decades later'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this