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DENVER (KDVR) — New research from the journal Neurology shows hypertension during pregnancy could lead to cognitive decline in women later on in life.

The study followed 115 women for an average of 15 years who had gestational hypertension during their pregnancies. 

“There have been studies looking at this before, but mostly they have concentrated in the past on a more severe hypertension that women experience in pregnancy,” said Dr. Meggan Zsemlye, an OB-GYN at UCHealth.

The study compared results from the 115 women with hypertension issues to a group of 481 women whose blood pressure was normal.

What researchers discovered was the women with hypertension scored significantly lower on cognitive tests such as ‘working memory’ and ‘verbal learning’ skills about 15 years after they gave birth.

“It’s not saying that 15 years after you have a baby if you had hypertension you’re going to be seriously impaired, but the beginnings can be seen even then,” Dr. Zsemlye said.

While pregnant women can’t do much about hypertension when it comes to their genetics, doctors at UCHealth say a healthy diet and regular exercise could certainly help.

“If somebody has had a history of hypertension in a previous pregnancy we may advise them to start taking a low dose baby aspirin in a subsequent pregnancy,” Dr. Zsemlye said.

For a closer look at the study and its results, click here.