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Why having a big family is good for your heart


A new study from the University of California has found that having four or more children can protect a woman's heart. They found women who experience four or more pregnancies are less likely to die from cardiovascular disease than those who never have a baby.

The study of nearly 1,300 post-menopausal women from south California found the key effect of having a large family was prevention of stroke. Mothers of large families were half as likely to die from the condition.

The results indicate that the higher level of pregnancy hormones mothers with large families experience has a lasting effect on the blood vessels, reducing the risk of heart attacks and heart disease.

Lead author of the study, Marni Jacobs, wrote in the journal Fertility and Sterility said: 'Women in this study had less CVD mortality risk if they had more than four pregnancies. The mechanism by which this decreased risk occurs is unknown, however, it may reflect higher fertility in healthier women, the effect of prolonged exposure to higher levels of circulating oestrogen... or the added social support from a larger family.'

According to the Daily Mail, Professor Donald Peebles, spokesman for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said it could be that some of the childless women were infertile, which itself could raise the risk of heart disease.

As well as having a large family, you can reduce your risk of having a heart attack or other heart disease by maintaining a healthy weight, and quitting smoking.

People of all ages who are physically active are less likely to get cardiovascular disease than those that are inactive, which could be why running around after four children reduces your heart attack risk! And a healthy diet helps to reduce your risk of developing heart disease, or if you've already got heart problems it will help to protect your heart.

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