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27th January 2020 Latest News Pregnancy And Birth

Decreasing the risk of heart disease after pregnancy complications

Emily Aldridge Decreasing risk of heart disease after pregnancy complications

Did you know that women who experience a complication during pregnancy have an increased risk of developing premature heart disease before the age of 55?

A unique clinic informed by research at the Lyell McEwin Hospital (LMH) is paving the way in changing this and improving women’s health outcomes.

The research program integrated into this clinic (the COFFEE* Clinic) is led by Clinical Research Assistant Emily Aldridge who is passionate about executing research that will educate women, improve their health and reduce their risk of developing heart disease in the future. It will save lives.

“Heart disease is the number one killer of women in Australia and worldwide. Pregnancy gives us a unique opportunity to identify those women who are at higher risk of developing premature heart disease,” Emily explained.

“It seems that pregnancy acts as a stress test for the heart, meaning it gives us a unique insight into a woman’s future heart health.”

Established by Emily’s supervisor, Associate Professor Margaret Arstall, the COFFEE Clinic at the LMH is a new clinical service that invites women who have experienced serious complications, like high blood pressure and diabetes, during pregnancy to be assessed and given advice from an expert nurse practitioner about lifestyle changes and receive referrals to relevant specialists.

“Many women don’t receive follow-up care after giving birth following a pregnancy complication. Our aim with the COFFEE Clinic is to ultimately reduce the burden of heart disease in South Australian women,” Emily said.

“We hope our care model will then be adopted in other centres across Australia.”

Thanks to your generous support of Australian Heart Research, along with The Hospital Research Foundation, we are proud to have recently expanded our support to the LMH, supporting vital research in Adelaide’s north.

“We also want to keep raising awareness about the link between pregnancy complications and heart disease so that women become more engaged in taking steps to reduce their cardiovascular risk earlier in life,” Emily said.

If you would like more information on this project, email us at [email protected] or call (08) 8244 0591.

*COFFEE is an abbreviation of ‘Cardiovascular assessment after Obstetric complications: Follow-up For Education and Evaluation’