Pregnancy and Reproductive Risk Factors for Cardiovascular Disease in Women

Anna C. O'Kelly, Erin D. Michos, Chrisandra L. Shufelt, Jane V. Vermunt, Margo B. Minissian, Odayme Quesada, Graeme N. Smith, Janet W. Rich-Edwards, Vesna D. Garovic, Samar R. El Khoudary, Michael C. Honigberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Beyond conventional risk factors for cardiovascular disease, women face an additional burden of sex-specific risk factors. Key stages of a woman's reproductive history may influence or reveal short- and long-term cardiometabolic and cardiovascular trajectories. Early and late menarche, polycystic ovary syndrome, infertility, adverse pregnancy outcomes (eg, hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, gestational diabetes, preterm delivery, and intrauterine growth restriction), and absence of breastfeeding are all associated with increased future cardiovascular disease risk. The menopause transition additionally represents a period of accelerated cardiovascular disease risk, with timing (eg, premature menopause), mechanism, and symptoms of menopause, as well as treatment of menopause symptoms, each contributing to this risk. Differences in conventional cardiovascular disease risk factors appear to explain some, but not all, of the observed associations between reproductive history and later-life cardiovascular disease; further research is needed to elucidate hormonal effects and unique sex-specific disease mechanisms. A history of reproductive risk factors represents an opportunity for comprehensive risk factor screening, refinement of cardiovascular disease risk assessment, and implementation of primordial and primary prevention to optimize long-term cardiometabolic health in women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)652-672
Number of pages21
JournalCirculation research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 18 2022


  • blood pressure
  • cardiovascular diseases
  • pregnancy
  • risk factors
  • women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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