Pregnancy complications, especially gestational diabetes and preeclampsia, are known to increase the risk of coronary artery disease, a condition to which black women are particularly susceptible. Researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina in the United States, compared black women with a history of either …

  • Gestational diabetes (148 women),

  • preeclampsia (137 participants), or

  • premature delivery (154 women),

with 445 black women who had a normal, healthy pregnancy. Their results were reported in July 2019 in the magazine. Circulation and cardiovascular imaging.

In coronary artery disease, the arteries that carry fresh blood to the heart muscle become clogged with plaque, mainly made up of cholesterol. Women with any of the complications studied had higher rates of blocked coronary arteries than those without such difficulties. Women with a history of gestational diabetes had more than three times the risk of coronary artery disease than women without pregnancy complications. The other pregnancy complications were associated with a slightly elevated risk of coronary artery disease.

Prevention of gestational diabetes consists of …

  • normalize body weight before conception,

  • eat a healthy diet with lots of fruits and vegetables,

  • gain only the recommended amount of weight, and

  • exercise regularly.

Coronary artery disease can exist without any signs or symptoms. Often the disease is found when the person is at higher risk for the problem. They are then examined with CT angiography, which is similar to an X-ray that takes pictures of the heart.

The signs and symptoms of the disease are …

  • pain, often described as a feeling of heaviness or tightness in the chest, back, jaw, arms, shoulders, or upper abdomen,

  • dizziness,

  • weakness or tiredness

  • nausea and vomiting

  • the perception of indigestion or heartburn,

  • difficulty breathing,

  • sweating or anxiety, and

  • fast heartbeat, palpitations and

  • heart skips beats

When diagnosing coronary artery disease, patients are advised …

  • to normalize your weight if necessary,

  • eat a diet low in solid fats and rich in fruits and vegetables,

  • give up smoking,

  • exercising as prescribed,

  • reduce stress levels in your life and

  • Avoid drinking alcohol in excess.

Medications include …

  • cholesterol-lowering medicines to help prevent the arteries from developing more plaque,

  • aspirin to prevent blood clots from forming in the arteries,

  • beta-blockers to put less pressure on the heart muscle,

  • calcium channel blockers to relax the walls of the blood vessels,

  • Ranolazine, an antianginal drug, improves blood flow to the heart and

  • Nitroglycerin belongs to a class of drugs known as nitrates and is given to help open the coronary arteries and improve blood flow to the heart.

  • Angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors and angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs) lower blood pressure.