Multiple miscarriages raise heart attack risk

February 1, 2011

Women who have more than 3 miscarriages have a 5-fold increase in risk for heart attack later in life, according to study findings.

Women who have more than 3 miscarriages have a 5-fold increase in risk for heart attack later in life, according to the findings of a German population-based prospective cohort study, the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study.

Researchers looked at more than 11,500 women in their mid-30s to mid-60s who had ever been pregnant and followed them for about a decade. During the course of the study, 25% of the women had at least 1 miscarriage, 18% had at least 1 abortion, and 2% had at least 1 stillbirth. In addition, 82 myocardial infarctions and 112 strokes occurred.

After adjusting for factors known to increase the risk for heart problems, including age, higher body mass index and waist-to-hip ratio, low physical activity, cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption, education, number of pregnancies, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and diabetes mellitus, the researchers calculated that each stillbirth increased the risk for myocardial infarctions 2.32 times (95% CI 1.19–4.50). After adjusting for the same factors, they also found that 3 or more miscarriages increased the risk for heart attack by more than 500%. Unadjusted, the risk was 9 times greater. Researchers found no association between abortion and myocardial infarctions or between any type of pregnancy loss and stroke.

Kharazmi E, Dossus L, Rohrmann S, Kaaks R. Pregnancy loss and risk of cardiovascular disease: a prospective population-based cohort study (EPIC-Heidelberg). Heart. 2011;97(1):49-54.