Diabetes during pregnancy could indicate midlife heart risk for women

Januvia users know that the fight against diabetes is an ongoing struggle that affects more than 25 million Americans today.

Januvia users know that the fight against diabetes is an ongoing struggle that affects more than 25 million Americans today. While Type 2 diabetes is often the more discussed form of the illness, the risks of gestational diabetes, which forms in pregnant women who are undergoing increases in blood glucose levels during pregnancy, are just as serious. Approximately 18 percent of expectant mothers experience the development of gestational diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association, and researchers are now linking the condition to increased chances of heart disease.

Doctors from Kaiser Permanente Northern California Institute in Oakland, Calif., studied 898 women, ages 18 through 30, to see if gestational diabetes had any impact on developing heart disease. The women had their risk factors for health disease measure before and after their pregnancies for a duration of 20 years. Researchers discovered that 119 women contracted gestational diabetes during pregnancy, which equated to 7.6 cases for every 100 deliveries.

After numerous post-pregnancy tests, the women who experienced the disease were found to have developed 0.023 millimeter larger carotid arteries than those who did not have gestational diabetes. The thickness of a carotid artery is a measurement that can predict whether someone is at risk for heart attack or stroke, and the increase in diameter signified a greater chance of heart disease for the women.

Dr. Erica P. Gunderson, a scientist at Kaiser and lead author of the study, referred to her groups findings as cause to raise an alarm regarding the potential severity of gestational diabetes.

"Our research shows that just having a history of gestational diabetes elevates a woman's risk of developing early, sub-clinical atherosclerosis before she develops Type 2 diabetes or the metabolic syndrome," Gunderson said in a statement. "This finding indicates that a history of gestational diabetes may influence development of early atherosclerosis before the onset of diabetes and metabolic diseases that previously have been linked to heart disease. Gestational diabetes may be an early risk factor for heart disease in women."

Treating gestational diabetes
While some cases of gestational diabetes disappear after the baby has been born, other times it can eventually lead to Type 2 diabetes for the mother as well as an increased likelihood the baby will develop diabetes at some point in his or her life. Managing the condition is the most important step towards relieving symptoms. A few methods of treatment include:

  • Frequently monitoring glucose levels
  • Consuming a well balanced diet
  • Staying active
  • Losing weight
  • Increased insulin injections

Januvia and other Canadian drugs are available to help treat offsets of diabetes. If you are pregnant, ask your doctor to check you out for gestational diabetes today.