Every pregnant woman knows she needs to watch her blood pressure and sugar levels during pregnancy. It’s not too uncommon for a pregnant patient to come into my office and state that she had blood pressure or sugar problems. Or for a patient to have experienced these while pregnant in the past. They make changes and the problem goes away. Or so we think…
I have found that patients are not fully educated on just how much these two conditions during pregnancy actually affect their risk for diabetes later in life. Many are told that they need to be careful and the discussion ends there.
However, we already know that, in the presence of obesity during pregnancy and a diagnosis of gestational diabetes (GDM), the chance of developing diabetes later in life goes beyond massive to almost a sure thing. A 3 pack a day cigarette smoker is less likely to develop lung cancer and heart disease than this pregnant woman developing diabetes. To be exact, this obese, pregnant patient diagnosed with GDM has a 4700% chance of becoming diabetic later in life.
This particular article looks at the relationship between high blood pressure during pregnancy and later development of diabetes and finds the connections just as disturbing. In pregnant women who had experienced hypertension during their pregnancy, the later risk of developing diabetes was 508% higher. Interestingly, when they looked at the combination of hypertension, elevated cholesterol and obesity, the risk for progression to diabetes was again staggering–3950% higher risk. Maybe not as high as the previously mentioned study, but lets face it–anything over DOUBLE (200%) is bad enough.
When it comes to diabetes, nothing is set in stone, but clearly in these situations pretty dramatic lifestyle changes are required. Without these changes, diabetes is imminent. If you had problems during your pregnancy, you will need to forever be vigilant with your lifestyle to avoid the development of diabetes.