Be Aware of Long-Term Risk Factors
Be aware of your long-term health risk factors and communicate them.
We've all seen the risk factors for cardiac disease: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, inactivity, obesity, smoking, and history of preeclampsia. Awareness of your own risk factors is key to managing them as you age and might lower risk of cardiac disease.
A recent analysis of the accuracy of our recall of our pregnancy histories by a team of researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health showed that we may not remember our complicated pregnancies well enough for questions about them to be a useful part of a screening tool. For our recall to be useful as a clinical tool in screening for heart disease, we need to be mostly accurate in our recollections years after delivery. (Imagine a 55 year old in her internist's office this week, asked for details of her pregnancy 30 years ago...) But the analysis also showed that as severity of our pregnancy complications increased, accuracy of recall also increased.
Regardless of whether or not a question about our pregnancy history makes it into a formal screening tool, our awareness of our histories and the risks they pose, communicated to our care providers, is another key to good healthcare. Those of us who do remember, or who have our records, can communicate this risk factor to our care providers and ask for appropriate support.
Knowing how to access lifestyle management tools is another sort of awareness. Do you have a plan for gym time? Do you need statins? Have you had your health evaluated by an internist or cardiologist who knows of your pregnancy history and who understands that your history increases your risks?