More children increases heart attack risk

By Rob Dabrowski on 04 June 2018 Heart Disease Research Cardiovascular

The more children a mother has, the greater her risk of heart attack, stroke and heart failure, according to new study findings.

Researchers from the Universities of Cambridge and North Carolina studied data from over 8000 white and African-American women from the US, aged 45 to 64 years. 

They found that having five or more children is associated with a 40% increased risk of a serious heart attack in the next 30 years, compared to having just one or two children. 

Having five or more children was also associated with a 30% increased risk of heart disease – the major cause of heart attacks – as well as a 25% increased risk of stroke and a 17% increase in the risk of heart failure compared to having one to two children. 

Having three to four children was also associated with a modest increased risk of serious health implications, but the research found that the most significant risk increases were seen with five or more children. 

Clare Oliver-Williams, who led the research at the University of Cambridge, said: ‘The aim of my research is not to scare women but to bring to their attention as early as possible whether they might be at increased risk of heart attacks. 

‘We know that pregnancy and childbirth put a tremendous strain on the heart, and raising children can be very stressful, too. We don’t want to add to the stress people have in their everyday lives but equip them with the knowledge to do something about it.’

The research was funded by the British Heart Foundation and presented today (4 June) at the British Cardiovascular Society Conference in Manchester.

For more information, on the conference click here.