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BACKGROUND: Pregnant people with chronic hypertension, pre-existing diabetes or both are at high risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Lifestyle interventions play an important role in disease management in non-pregnant populations. AIM: To review the existing evidence of randomised controlled trials (RCTs) that examine lifestyle interventions in pregnant people with chronic hypertension and/or pre-existing diabetes. METHODS: A systematic review and narrative synthesis was conducted. Five electronic databases were searched from inception to April 2021 for RCTs evaluating antenatal lifestyle interventions in people with chronic hypertension and/or pre-existing diabetes with outcomes to include weight or blood pressure change. RESULTS: Nine randomised controlled trials including 7438 pregnant women were eligible. Eight studies were mixed pregnant populations that included women with chronic hypertension and/or pre-existing diabetes. One study included only pregnant women with pre-existing diabetes. Intervention characteristics and procedures varied and targeted diet, physical activity and/or gestational weight. All studies reported weight and one study reported blood pressure change. Outcome data were frequently unavailable for the subset of women of interest, including subgroup data on important pregnancy and birth complications. Eligibility criteria were often ambiguous and baseline data on chronic hypertension was often omitted. CONCLUSION: A lack of primary interventional trials examining the effect of lifestyle interventions on weight and blood pressure outcomes in pregnant populations with chronic hypertension and/or pre-existing diabetes was evident. Lifestyle modification has the potential to alter disease progression. Future trials should address the ambiguity and frequent exclusion of these important populations.

Original publication




Journal article


Pregnancy Hypertens

Publication Date





60 - 72


Chronic hypertension, Lifestyle interventions, Pre-existing diabetes, Pregnancy