Global Health Asia-Pacific Issue 2 | 2023 | Page 33

Planning early birth could prevent dangerous condition in pregnancy
It could usher in the first effective method of cutting the risk of preeclampsia at term

The majority of preeclampsia cases near the end of pregnancy could be avoided by delivering the baby in the final weeks before coming to full term , according to new research .

Characterised by high blood pressure , preeclampsia is a potentially life-threatening condition that can affect pregnant women , especially when their due date draws near , and also jeopardise the baby ’ s wellbeing . Women who develop it are more likely to have heart problems in their lifetime compared to those who don ’ t have the condition .
While taking aspirin is effective at preventing most preeclampsia cases before 37 weeks of pregnancy , there ’ s no preventative measure to cut its risk at term ( 37-42 weeks of pregnancy ), which is also the time associated with more complications compared to early preeclampsia . By analysing the health records of almost 90,000 pregnancies , researchers in the UK found that scheduling birth from 37 weeks for women at high preeclampsia risk and from 40 weeks for those at lower risk could more than halve the cases of the condition .
“ Timed birth is achievable in many hospitals or health centers ,” lead study author Dr Laura A . Magee , professor of women ’ s health at King ’ s College in London , said in a news release . “ Our proposed approach to prevent at-term preeclampsia has huge potential for global good in maternity care .”
To further highlight the benefits of scheduling births before they come to full term , she added that “ being at higher risk of at-term preeclampsia was associated with earlier spontaneous onset of labor , so women at the highest risk were already less likely to deliver close to their due date .”
Heart shape could point to cardiovascular risk
A useful diagnostic metric , it could serve as an important warning sign

People with a round heart seem to be more likely to develop heart failure and atrial fibrillation than those with longer organs , according to a recent study .

Researchers from the Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai in the US used deep learning and imaging to analyse cardiac magnetic resonance imaging ( MRI ) records of 38,897 healthy individuals from the UK Biobank . Their findings show that the genetics of people with round hearts is linked to two of the most common cardiovascular problems worldwide .
“ We found that individuals with spherical hearts were 31 percent more likely to develop atrial fibrillation and 24 percent more likely to develop cardiomyopathy , a type of heart muscle disease ,” study leader Dr David Ouyang , a cardiologist in the Smidt Heart Institute and a researcher in the Division of Artificial Intelligence in Medicine , said in a press release .
Typically , heart shapes change over time and tend to become rounder , especially in the wake of a major cardiac event like a heart attack . “ A change in the heart ’ s shape may be a first sign of disease ,” Dr Christine M . Albert , chair of the Department of Cardiology at the Smidt Heart Institute and a study author , said in the press release . “ Understanding how a heart changes when faced with illness — coupled with now having more reliable and intuitive imaging to support this knowledge — is a critical step in prevention for two life-altering diseases .”
Atrial fibrillation is the most common form of irregular heart rhythm in the world , with one estimate putting the number of cases at almost 60 million in 2019 . It increases the risk of having a stroke and can be fatal . Cardiomyopathy is less common and often undiagnosed , and therefore treatment may be delayed .
GlobalHealthAsiaPacific . com ISSUE 2 | 2023