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Hypertens Res. 2013 Dec;36(12):1081-7. doi: 10.1038/hr.2013.81. Epub 2013 Aug 15.

Normalized endothelial function but sustained cardiovascular risk profile 11 years following a pregnancy complicated by preeclampsia.

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  • 1Division of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Department of Clinical Sciences, Danderyd Hospital, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.


Women with a history of preeclampsia are at increased risk of future cardiovascular disease. Preeclampsia is associated with elevated blood pressure, inflammation and endothelial dysfunction, and these findings remain 1 year after delivery. Whether these abnormalities persist long after delivery, and whether they may contribute to future cardiovascular disease, is not well studied. We studied 15 women with a history of preeclampsia and 16 matched controls with an uncomplicated pregnancy 11 years following the index pregnancy; all had also been previously examined at 1 year. We assessed arterial stiffness (pulse wave analysis), 24 h ambulatory blood pressure and endothelial function (forearm flow-mediated dilatation and pulse wave analysis following β receptor agonist provocation), and determined markers of glucose and lipid metabolism, inflammation and vascular function. The preeclampsia group had higher blood pressures and reduced night/day blood pressure ratios, increased body mass index and reduced glucose tolerance, and increased levels of tissue necrosis factor receptor 1 and intracellular adhesion molecule-1, suggesting inflammatory and vascular activation. However, the endothelial impairment observed in the preeclampsia group at 1 year was normalized at 11 years, whereas the control group remained unchanged during follow-up. Our findings of higher blood pressures, impaired glucose tolerance and normalization of endothelial function 11 years after preeclampsia suggest cardiovascular risk factors present already before pregnancy to be more important than permanent endothelial damage for the increased risk of future cardiovascular complications in women with a history of preeclampsia.

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