STUDY: The more pregnancies you have the greater your risk of heart disease

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Women who have been pregnant at least three times are at much greater risk of heart failure, according to a new study.

The small study looked at heart disease in women in their 60s and 70s and found an increase in ‘stiff heart syndrome’ among women who had more than three children.

Women who have been pregnant at least three times are at much greater risk of heart failure

The Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne researchers believed a rise in a woman’s blood flow when pregnant led to changes in the heart muscle and vessels.

Lead researcher Dr Anna Beale said women who fall into this category need to be “extra careful”.

“(They) are at increased risk for the type of heart failure we term as ‘stiff heart syndrome’,” she said.

The repeated strain put on the heart during multiple pregnancies is thought to increase the risk.

“Pregnancy affects the heart because the amount of blood required to flow through the heart during pregnancy increases by about 50 per cent.

“And therefore with repeated adaption to this it probably causes some damage and scarring to the heart.”

Dr Beale said while three was the “magic number” that came out in the study the research is still in its early stages.

“We would like to do bigger studies to confirm this and see if there really is a close dose-response relationship.”

However medical experts say mothers shouldn’t ‘lose too much sleep’ over the extremely rare disease, and should focus on their heart health in general.

You should exercise daily, eat healthily and avoid smoking to maintain a healthy heart.

What is Stiff heart syndrome?

Cardiac amyloidosis (“stiff heart syndrome”) is a disorder caused by deposits of an abnormal protein (amyloid) in the heart tissue. These deposits make it hard for the heart to work properly.

It is the most typical type of restrictive cardiomyopathy. Cardiac amyloidosis may affect the way electrical signals move through the heart (conduction system). This can lead to abnormal heartbeats (arrhythmias) and faulty heart signals (heart block).

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