Mothers over 40 ‘more likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke’

A fresh study claims that new mothers over the age of 40 are more likely to have a heart attack or stroke later in life.

Scientists at the University of Minnesota in America looked at more than 72,000 women to compile their new research, with 3,300 of those falling pregnant at a more mature age. The research was conducted on the women over a period of 12 years during the latter stages of their lives as part of the US Women’s Health Initiative Study.

They found that the women who had given birth after turning 40 were 70 per cent more likely to die of a cardiovascular disease in later life. They were also found to be twice as likely to suffer a haemorrhagic stroke, caused by a brain bleed, and a fifth more likely to have a heart attack.

In addition, their risk of suffering from an ischaemic stroke (caused by a blood clot) was increased by a staggering 60 per cent.

The results were presented on Wednesday (17Feb16) at the American Stroke Association Meeting in Los Angeles.

“We already knew that older women were more likely than younger women to experience health problems during their pregnancy,” Professor Adnan Qureshi, lead researcher and director of the Zeenat Qureshi Stroke Institute in Minnesota, said at the meeting.

“Now, we know that the consequences of that later pregnancy stretch years into the future. Women with a late pregnancy need to be aware of their increased risk and take steps to improve their cardiovascular health.

“Their doctors also need to remain vigilant years later in monitoring these women’s risk factors through physical examination and, perhaps, more tests and earlier interventions to prevent stroke and other cardiovascular events.

Nine in 10 toddlers aren’t active enough

New figures have revealed more than nine out of 10 toddlers are not doing enough exercise to stay healthy.

Just nine per cent of children aged between two and four are getting the advisable three hours of physical activity per day. The benefits of being active include improving bone health and supporting brain development, while also helping social and mental skills to develop.

Now experts are asking the Government to come up with new ways of supporting more exercise for children.

The British Heart Foundation National Centre for Physical Activity and Health (BHFNC), based at Loughborough University, are asking politicians to include stipulations for more exercise in policies – encouraging young children at nursery and in their communities to be given more opportunities to stay active.

“This manifesto outlines how we can create an environment for our children that encourages them and stimulates them to be active,” Elaine McNish, director of the BHFNC, said. “This manifesto is a call to policy makers to ensure that early years settings are supported to create active environments.

“We know that active children are more likely to become active adults so it’s vitally important to get it right at the beginning to give children opportunities to play from a young age and develop a lifelong love of being active.”

With obesity proving an increasingly difficult problem to solve among adults, it is believed that encouraging activity from a very young age may help prevent weight problems as the children get older.

“We know that physical activity is an important component of a healthy lifestyle for everyone and the under-fives are no different,” Lisa Young, project manager for prevention and behaviour change at the British Heart Foundation, added.

“Developing a love of being active from a young age is important as we know active children become active adults, and active adults are healthier adults.”