Heart Health and Pregnancy

MCH Jan 2020

February is Heart Health Month. What better time to focus on how smoking can affect the heart health of pregnant women?

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, in pregnancy is a leading cause of maternal death. One in five women of childbearing age has high blood pressure.

High blood pressure occurs when the force of blood flowing through the blood vessels is consistently too high. It can lead to serious problems including heart disease and stroke.

How is smoking a factor?    

Smoking is particularly dangerous for people with high blood pressure. Smoking increases the risk of heart disease and stroke by 2 to 4 times. Both smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke increase the risk for the buildup of fatty substances (plaque) inside the arteries -- a process that high blood pressure is known to accelerate. Every time you smoke, it also causes a temporary increase in blood pressure.

Women who smoke have a 25 percent higher risk of developing heart disease than men who smoke. Women who go into pregnancy with high blood pressure are at risk of having a baby who has a low birth weight or is born premature.

Smoking is the most important preventable cause of premature death in the United States. For your overall health and to reduce your risk for heart attack and stroke, avoid all forms of tobacco as well as secondhand smoke.

For help with quitting contact Ste. Genevieve County Health Department @ 883-7411, The Missouri tobacco Quitline @ 1-800-QUIT-NOW, and ask for assistance from your physician.