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J Hypertens. 2004 Feb;22(2):369-76.

Serial assessment of cardiovascular control shows early signs of developing pre-eclampsia.

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  • 1Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.



To evaluate whether differences in autonomic cardiovascular control between normal pregnant women and women who develop pre-eclampsia later in pregnancy can be detected even before or early in pregnancy.


We studied 42 women, 21 multigravid with a history of pre-eclampsia and 21 primigravid, before pregnancy, at 6, 8, 12, 16, 20 and 32 weeks gestation and 15 weeks after delivery.


The outcome of pregnancy was classified after delivery as normal pregnancy (NP group) or pre-eclampsia (PE group). Continuous heart rate and blood pressure were recorded by Portapres (TNO, Amsterdam, The Netherlands) during orthostatic stress, during rest in a supine and sitting position, and during paced breathing for periods of 1 min at breathing frequencies of 6, 10 and 15 breaths/min. Baroreflex gain from heart rate and blood pressure variability and the phase angle between both signals at low (approximately 0.1 Hz) and high frequency (respiratory rate) were analyzed by spectral analysis.


Eight women were diagnosed with pre-eclampsia. Subgroups did not differ in age, weight or height. The PE group showed a significantly higher mean arterial pressure before and during pregnancy [analysis of variance (ANOVA), P = 0.001], a significantly larger initial blood pressure drop to orthostatic stress before and in the first half of pregnancy (ANOVA, P = 0.002) and a significantly larger negative phase difference during supine rest at low frequency from 8 weeks onward (ANOVA P = 0.003).


These findings are compatible with increased resting sympathetic activity and decreased circulating volume, already present before and early in pregnancy, in women who will later develop pre-eclampsia.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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