"Our analysis, the largest review in a decade, serves as an important reminder of how stressful pregnancy can be on the female body and heart, causing a lot of physiological changes, and potentially unmasking risk factors that can lead to heart attack," senior author Sripal Bangalore said in a statement.
Although researchers are unclear why the risk of heart attacks among pregnant women has increased, they hypothesized that age could be a factor as more women are waiting to have children later in life. They noted that the risk rises as women get older.
Women between 35 to 39 who become pregnant are five times more likely to suffer a heart attack, compared to a women in their 20s. And women in their early 40s are 10 times more likely.
Furthermore, the researchers report more women are also obese and/or have diabetes, which increases the risk, and early detectors of heart damage have also improved.
"Our findings highlight the importance to women considering pregnancy to know their risk factors for heart disease beforehand," coauthor Nathaniel R. Smilowitz added. "These patients should work out a plan with their physicians to monitor and control risk factors during pregnancy so that they can minimize their risk."