What it is
When a baby is born too early, before 37 weeks of pregnancy (about three weeks before a baby's expected due date). Preterm births affect about 1 out of 10 pregnancies in the U.S.
Why the concern
Research has linked early deliveries to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, cardiac events and related hospitalizations in moms. In fact, a recent review of existing studies found that preterm birth is associated with up to a 2-fold higher chance
of developing or dying from heart disease or stroke later in life. The risk of heart and vascular diseases appears to be even greater among women who:
- Deliver before 32 weeks of pregnancy
- Have had more than one preterm birth
- Have a preterm birth due to a medical cause (not an early delivery that happens on its own)
What you can do
- Tell your primary care doctor and other health care providers that you had a preterm birth. This information should be part of your ongoing health history long after the baby arrives.
- Ask about doing a formal heart disease risk assessment
- Work together to decide when and how often you need to be followed.
- Live heart healthy by exercising daily, eating right, not smoking, managing stress, and knowing your cholesterol and blood pressure numbers.