Parenting News

Mum alert! If you've got more than two kids you're at greater risk of having a heart attack

We knew it was busy but jeesh!

After the morning I've just had getting three kids off to three different schools and then myself to work, I'm the first to agree that having kids can be busy at best and stressful at worst.

And if life is busy with three - as Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge will be beginning to find out - I can only imagine how mums of really large families get on - like Jools Oliver, Angelina Jolie and Victoria Beckham (although I'm sure they have access to a lot more help - if they choose to take it - than the everyday mum).

And now a new study is out that claims having more than two kids is bad for a mother's heart health.

According to a study led by Cambridge University, the more children a woman has the greater her risk of heart attack, stroke and heart failure.

Women with three or four children are more likely to have serious health implications than women with one or two children. And women with five children or more are at even greater risk - to be precise, 40 per cent more likely to have a serious heart attack in the next 30 years compared to women with one or two children. Mums of five or more also carry a 30 per cent increased risk of heart disease (the major cause of heart attacks), are 25 per cent more likely to have a stroke and 17 per cent more likely to have heart failure than mothers of one or two.

Geesh.

Angelina Jolie out with her six children.

The researchers studied data from more than 8000 women aged between 45 ad 64 from the United States.

They've suggested that pregnancy and labour put strain on the heart to begin with, and then looking after multiple children is stressful, meaning mothers stop looking after themselves properly.

Cambridge University's Dr Clare Oliver-Williams, who led the research, says: "We know that pregnancy and childbirth put a tremendous strain on the heart, and raising children can be very stressful too."

Professor Jeremy Pearson, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation which funded the study, says: "While it's perhaps not surprising that having more children can mean that mums have less time to look after their own health, this research brings home just how important it is for everyone to keep an eye on their heart health, particularly busy parents.

"Research like this reminds us that – regardless of the stereotype of the overweight, middle-aged man having a heart attack – heart disease strikes men and women alike."

According to The Heart Foundation NZ, heart disease is the single biggest killer of women in New Zealand. It claims more than 3000 lives every year.

Key to minimising your heart health risks is looking after yourself properly - avoiding stress where you can and taking time out for yourself, eating healthily and maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly and quitting smoking. Keep an eye on your blood pressure and cholestoral levels, especially if you are over 40.

The researchers also found that women who have had miscarriages had a 60 per cent greater risk of heart disease and were 45 per cent more likely to go on to have heart failure, but that this was likely to be the result of underlying health problems that increased the chances of pregnancy loss.