Women and Heart Disease
Heart disease is the number one killer of women in Canada. The top risk factors for heart disease are smoking, obesity and diabetes. Yet, many women without any of these conditions will develop heart disease. Clearly, the traditional male-centric models of heart disease risk do not always apply to women, which is why researchers are working to identify and develop new risk factor models that are specific to women.
The Maternal Health Clinic
During pregnancy and the postpartum period, you will be accessing the health care system on a regular basis - perhaps for the first time. Pregnancy provides a new, early window of opportunity to identify risk factors and implement screening and intervention strategies that may improve your long-term health. The Maternal Health Clinic at Kingston General Hospital (KGH) is designed to support the heart health of women that have had one or more of the following pregnancy complications:
High blood pressure in pregnancy (pre-eclampsia, gestational hypertension, toxaemia)
Diabetes during pregnancy (Gestational diabetes or glucose intolerance during pregnancy)
Unexplained preterm birth (Idiopathic premature birth)
Delivery of a small baby (growth restricted baby)
At the Maternal Health Clinic, you will be accessed on all pregnancy complications, you medical history, and your family’s medical history. Clinicians will measure your blood pressure, weight, height, and waist circumference, and calculate your Body Mass Index (BMI). The clinic will collect your blood to look at your cholesterol, lipid, and glucose levels. Lastly, your clinician may ask for a urine test to screen for protein.
The Maternal Clinic at KGH is the first of its kind in North America. The clinic was designed by Dr. Graeme Smith, director of the clinician investigation program in the maternal-fetal medicine division at KGH. Dr. Smith has proposed pregnancy and the postpartum period as the best time for women to be screened for heart disease risk factors. Pregnancy is a physiologic stress test, one that can reveal underlying problems. The Maternal Health Clinic is available at 6 months postpartum to women. The goals of the clinic are to promote mothers' health, screen for heart disease risk factors and educate women on the links between pregnancy complications and heart disease. Dr. Smith hopes that the clinic and approach to screening can educate and empower women to take steps to prevent heart disease.
Looking for additional tools?
The Postpartum Mother’s Health Record is designed for the mother’s use. We have timed the collection of information to coincide with your baby’s scheduled visits and immunizations. Use the card to help set goals and keep track of weight loss. Keep the card with your baby’s immunization card as a reminder of when to record the information. Give a copy of the completed card to your health care provider at the end of your first year postpartum and review it with him or her for any further suggestions.
Stories from Clinic Participants
"Upon hearing from the Mother's Program after my second pregnancy I was a little surprised as I had been active throughout my pregnancy and felt that I had better managed my weight than with my first, however I did start out several pounds heavier, and still gained a fair amount of weight. At my meetings with several health professionals, I was provided with information of a simple and practical nature with regards to potential future health and wellness implications and some basic suggestions for making improvements. It seems that genetics could be a little stacked against me, so that information provided me with enough incentive to work on the things that were within my control, namely, improved health through better eating habits and increased fitness levels. I reduced my weight and body fat percentage and started my third pregnancy in my best condition in years and have maintained a good level of fitness, health and weight gain. I feel fortunate that I have the information provided by the Mother's Program as it will keep me motivated as I look forward to continuing on the path to improved fitness and wellness after delivery and recovery."
- Krista D.