Nav: Home

Healthy diet may reduce high blood pressure risk in pregnancy-related diabetes

April 18, 2016

DALLAS, April 18, 2016 - Women with pregnancy-related diabetes (gestational diabetes) are at greater risk of developing high blood pressure later in life; however, a healthy diet may significantly reduce that risk, according to new research in the American Heart Association's journal Hypertension.

Researchers studied 3,818 women with a history of pregnancy-related diabetes enrolled in the Nurses' Health Study II as a part of the ongoing Diabetes and Women's Health Study. Over 22 years of follow-up, 1,069 women developed high blood pressure, which in turn increased their risk of having a heart attack or stroke.

Researchers found:
  • Women who continually adhered to a healthy diet were 20 percent less likely to develop high blood pressure compared to those who did not maintain a healthy diet.
  • Increase in body mass index explained around 20-30 percent of the association between lower healthy dietary pattern scores and increased risk of hypertension.
"Our earlier research showed that diabetes in pregnancy increased a woman's risk of developing hypertension, even 16 years after giving birth," said Cuilin Zhang, M.D., Ph.D., senior study author and senior investigator at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in Rockville, Maryland. "Our current study shows that a healthy diet, which has been proven to reduce high blood pressure risk in the general population, appears to be equally effective in reducing the risk in this group of high risk women."

Study participants completed a questionnaire about their diets every four years. Researchers matched responses to three healthy diets: the Alternative Healthy Eating Index, the alternative Mediterranean diet and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH). The three diets share important similarities: eating fruits and vegetables, fish, legumes and whole grains while reducing red meat, salt and processed meat.

Study results were adjusted for many factors that could bias results, including smoking, level of physical activity, race/ethnicity, oral contraceptive use, family history of high blood pressure and weight. Women with a greater adherence to a healthy diet were less likely to be current smokers and more likely to be moderate alcohol drinkers, eat more cereal fiber, be more physically active and less likely to consume trans-fat.

Lower weight gain appeared to contribute to some of the reduced risk of developing high blood pressure in women on a healthy diet, but a healthy diet, regardless of weight gain or loss, still offered protection against high blood pressure.

"While the majority of these women's glucose levels will return to normal after delivery, our study should serve as an early warning signal," Zhang said, adding that the pregnancy complication is usually treated by advising women to reduce calories, particularly those that come from carbohydrates, and increase exercise. Physicians and other healthcare providers should also encourage these mothers to continue these healthy practices after delivery.

The Nurses' Health Study II began in 1989 with funding from the National Institutes of Health. Study limitations include participants who are mainly white and educated. Dr. Shanshan Li, the first co-author, said future studies need to examine the association between gestational diabetes, diet and hypertension in minority populations such as Hispanic and African American women, who are at greater risk for high blood pressure.
-end-
Other co-authors are Shanshan Li, M.P.H, Sc.D.; Yeyi Zhu, Ph.D.; Jorge E. Chavarro, Sc.D., M.D., Sc.M.; Wei Bao, M.D., Ph.D.; Deirdre K. Tobias, Sc.D.; An Pan, Ph.D; Sylvia H. Ley, Ph.D.; John P. Forman, M.D.; Aiyi Liu, Ph.D.; James Mills, M.D.,M.S.; Katherine Bowers, Ph.D., M.P.H.; Marin Strøm, Ph.D.; Susanne Hansen, M.Sc. and Frank B. Hu, M.D. Author disclosures are on the manuscript.

The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, funded the study.

Additional Resources:

After April 18, view the manuscript online.
Pregnancy complications may signal later risk of heart disease death
Gestational diabetes may raise risk for heart disease in midlife
About High Blood Pressure
Follow AHA/ASA news on Twitter @HeartNews.
For the updates and new science from the Hypertension journal follow @HyperAHA.

Statements and conclusions of study authors published in American Heart Association scientific journals are solely those of the study authors and do not necessarily reflect the association's policy or position. The association makes no representation or guarantee as to their accuracy or reliability. The association receives funding primarily from individuals; foundations and corporations (including pharmaceutical, device manufacturers and other companies) also make donations and fund specific association programs and events. The association has strict policies to prevent these relationships from influencing the science content. Revenues from pharmaceutical and device corporations are available at http://www.heart.org/corporatefunding.

American Heart Association

Related Diabetes Articles:

Maternal gestational diabetes linked to diabetes in children
Children and youth of mothers who had gestational diabetes during pregnancy are at increased risk of diabetes themselves, according to new research published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).
Two diabetes medications don't slow progression of type 2 diabetes in youth
In youth with impaired glucose tolerance or recent-onset type 2 diabetes, neither initial treatment with long-acting insulin followed by the drug metformin, nor metformin alone preserved the body's ability to make insulin, according to results published online June 25 in Diabetes Care.
People with diabetes visit the dentist less frequently despite link between diabetes, oral health
Adults with diabetes are less likely to visit the dentist than people with prediabetes or without diabetes, finds a new study led by researchers at NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing and East Carolina University's Brody School of Medicine.
Diabetes, but not diabetes drug, linked to poor pregnancy outcomes
New research indicates that pregnant women with pre-gestational diabetes who take metformin are at a higher risk for adverse pregnancy outcomes -- such as major birth defects and pregnancy loss -- than the general population, but their increased risk is not due to metformin but diabetes.
New oral diabetes drug shows promise in phase 3 trial for patients with type 1 diabetes
A University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus study finds sotagliflozin helps control glucose and reduces the need for insulin in patients with type 1 diabetes.
Can continuous glucose monitoring improve diabetes control in patients with type 1 diabetes who inject insulin
Two studies in the Jan. 24/31 issue of JAMA find that use of a sensor implanted under the skin that continuously monitors glucose levels resulted in improved levels in patients with type 1 diabetes who inject insulin multiple times a day, compared to conventional treatment.
Complications of type 2 diabetes affect quality of life, care can lead to diabetes burnout
T2D Lifestyle, a national survey by Health Union of more than 400 individuals experiencing type 2 diabetes (T2D), reveals that patients not only struggle with commonly understood complications, but also numerous lesser known ones that people do not associate with diabetes.
A better way to predict diabetes
An international team of researchers has discovered a simple, accurate new way to predict which women with gestational diabetes will develop type 2 diabetes after delivery.
The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology: Older Americans with diabetes living longer without disability, US study shows
Older Americans with diabetes born in the 1940s are living longer and with less disability performing day to day tasks than those born 10 years earlier, according to new research published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology journal.
Reverse your diabetes -- and you can stay diabetes-free long-term
A new study from Newcastle University, UK, has shown that people who reverse their diabetes and then keep their weight down remain free of diabetes.
More Diabetes News and Diabetes Current Events

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2019.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

In & Out Of Love
We think of love as a mysterious, unknowable force. Something that happens to us. But what if we could control it? This hour, TED speakers on whether we can decide to fall in — and out of — love. Guests include writer Mandy Len Catron, biological anthropologist Helen Fisher, musician Dessa, One Love CEO Katie Hood, and psychologist Guy Winch.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#543 Give a Nerd a Gift
Yup, you guessed it... it's Science for the People's annual holiday episode that helps you figure out what sciency books and gifts to get that special nerd on your list. Or maybe you're looking to build up your reading list for the holiday break and a geeky Christmas sweater to wear to an upcoming party. Returning are pop-science power-readers John Dupuis and Joanne Manaster to dish on the best science books they read this past year. And Rachelle Saunders and Bethany Brookshire squee in delight over some truly delightful science-themed non-book objects for those whose bookshelves are already full. Since...
Now Playing: Radiolab

An Announcement from Radiolab