April 21, 2016
1 min read

Healthy diet may reduce hypertension risk in women with gestational diabetes

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Women with gestational diabetes were 20% less likely to develop hypertension later in life if they maintained a healthy diet, researchers reported in Hypertension.

“Our earlier research showed that diabetes in pregnancy increased a woman’s risk of developing hypertension, even 16 years after giving birth,” Cuilin Zhang, MD, PhD, senior investigator at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, said in a press release. “Our current study shows that a healthy diet, which has been proven to reduce high [BP] risk in the general population, appears to be equally effective in reducing the risk in this group of high risk women.”

Zhang and colleagues analyzed data from 3,818 women with a history of gestational diabetes. All were participants of the Nurses’ Health Study II between 1989 and 2011. The mean age at onset of gestational diabetes was 32 years.

During a median follow-up of 18.5 years, 1,069 women developed hypertension. After adjustment for potential confounders including BMI, the researchers observed an inverse association between the three dietary patterns — the alternative Healthy Eating Index-2010 (AHEI-2010), the Mediterranean diet and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) — and risk for hypertension. When comparing the highest quartiles of diet scores to the lowest, the HR for hypertension was 0.76 (95% CI, 0.61-0.94) for the AHEI-2010, 0.7 (95% CI, 0.56-0.88) for the Mediterranean diet and 0.72 (95% CI, 0.58-0.9) for the DASH diet.

The researchers also observed that lower weight gain also seemed a factor in the reduced risk for hypertension, but a healthy diet regardless of weight gain or weight loss still had a positive effect on BP.

Future studies are needed on the relationships between gestational diabetes, diet and hypertension in minority women who have a greater risk for hypertension, according to the researchers.

“While the majority of these women’s glucose levels will return to normal after delivery, our study should serve as an early warning signal,” Zhang said. – by Tracey Romero

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.