Gestational Diabetes Leading to Cardiovascular Disease

Faculty Advisor

Julia Hum Ph.D

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Medicine and Health Sciences


Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is an increasingly prevalent complication of preg-nancy leading to adverse maternal outcomes for years postpartum. This primary litera-ture review was conducted to explore what complications of GDM have significant cor-relation with an increased risk for eventual onset of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Overlapping risk factors for GDM and CVD such as obesity, sedentary lifestyle, and poor diet are largely the cause for this correlation. Obesity is a commonly recognized cause of the progression from GDM to CVD. However, there remains the need to iden-tify other factor(s) that elevate CVD risk in women who have had GDM but who are not obese and who lead an active life. The literature review explores the issues that may be secondary to obesity, along with outcomes of GDM that lie outside of obesity entire-ly and remain known exclusively as a by-product of GDM. This allowed for some pos-sible explanations for the increased cardiovascular risk seen in women who had GDM but would typically not be considered high risk for CVD or GDM. GDM results in vari-ous adverse outcomes including hypertension, dyslipidemia, inflammation, endothelial dysfunction, and type 2 diabetes, all of which promote progression to CVD. These may serve as intermediate factors in the onset of CVD up to 25 years postpartum. Seden-tary lifestyle and advanced maternal age are critical factors favoring the progression of GDM to CVD. Further identification of risk factors leading to CVD would allow for pre-vention of onset of CVD following a pregnancy affected by GDM.


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