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Hypertensive Disorders of Pregnancy Linked to Declines in Cognition

Declines in global cognition, language, attention z-score greater for women with preeclampsia/eclampsia on stratification by HDP type

By Elana Gotkine HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, March 6, 2023 (HealthDay News) — Women with hypertensive disorders of pregnancy (HDP), specifically preeclampsia/eclampsia (PE/E), have greater declines in global cognition later in life, according to a study published online March 1 in Neurology.

Michelle M. Mielke, Ph.D., from the Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and colleagues examined the effects of any HDP, gestational or chronic hypertension (GH/CH), PE/E, and nulliparity on cognition in later life in a study involving 2,239 women enrolled in the Mayo Clinic Study of Aging with abstracted pregnancy information. Every 15 months, a cognitive battery of nine tests was conducted.

Of the participants, 1,854 (82.8 percent) had at least one pregnancy (1,607 all normotensive, 100 GH/CH, 147 PE/E) and 385 were nulliparous (17.2 percent). The researchers observed no cross-sectional difference in cognitive performance for women with a history of any HDP, GH/CH, or PE/E versus normotensive women; lower global and domain-specific cognition were seen for nulliparous women in age- and education-adjusted models, with an interaction seen for nulliparity and education. Compared with women with all normotensive pregnancies, longitudinally, women with any HDP had greater declines in global cognition and attention/executive z-scores. When stratified by HDP type, greater declines in global cognition, language, and attention z-scores were seen for women with PE/E only.

“While high blood pressure during pregnancy, including preeclampsia, is recognized as a risk factor for heart disease and stroke, our study suggests that it may also be a risk factor for cognitive decline in later life,” Mielke said in a statement.

One author disclosed financial ties to the biopharmaceutical industry.

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