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The researchers also said they found that the brothers and sisters of these women have a higher risk of high blood pressure later in life, and the brothers also may have a higher chance of heart disease.
"The increased risk of high blood pressure in siblings suggests that family history contributes to the increased risk of high blood pressure in women during pregnancy," study co-leader Tracey Weissgerber, of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., said in a news release from the American Society of Nephrology.
The study only uncovered an association between high blood pressure during pregnancy and potential problems later in life; it did not prove cause-and-effect.
The long-term study included over 900 brothers and nearly 1,500 sisters in 954 sibling groups across the United States. Compared to women who had normal blood pressure during pregnancy, women with high blood pressure during pregnancy were 75 percent more likely to develop high blood pressure later in life, the findings showed.
In addition, brothers and sisters of women who had high blood pressure in pregnancy were 24 percent and 15 percent more likely, respectively, to develop high blood pressure later in life, compared with brothers and sisters of women who did not have high blood pressure during pregnancy.
Brothers, but not sisters, of women who had high blood pressure in pregnancy also had an increased risk of heart disease later in life, according to the study published online Aug. 27 in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.
"Further studies are needed to determine whether this increased risk in women who had high blood pressure in pregnancy is due to stronger genetic predisposition to high blood pressure, other risk factors, or lasting damage caused by high blood pressure in pregnancy," Weissgerber said in the news release.
High blood pressure develops in about 8 percent of pregnancies.
-- Robert Preidt
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