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Ultrasound Obstet Gynecol. 2014 Jun;43(6):675-80. doi: 10.1002/uog.13289.

Thicknesses of individual layers of artery wall indicate increased cardiovascular risk in severe pre-eclampsia.

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Department of Women's and Children's Health, Section for Obstetrics and Gynecology, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden.



To assess whether thicknesses of the intima and media in the common carotid artery (CCA) and the intima/media ratio (I/M) indicate an increased cardiovascular risk in non-pregnant women with a history of previous severe pre-eclampsia.


Thicknesses of the CCA intima and media layers were measured using non-invasive high-frequency (22 MHz) ultrasound in 42 women with a history of severe pre-eclampsia and 44 women with previous normal pregnancy.


Women with a history of severe pre-eclampsia had a thicker CCA intima and a higher I/M than had women with previous normal pregnancy, also after adjustment for mean arterial pressure, body mass index and CCA intima-media thickness (IMT) (all P < 0.0001). CCA-IMT did not differ significantly between groups. In receiver-operating characteristics curve analysis, intima thickness and I/M clearly discriminated between women with and those without previous pre-eclampsia (area under the receiver-operating characteristics curve (AUC), 0.98 and 0.93), whereas CCA-IMT did not (AUC, 0.52).


CCA individual intima and media thicknesses as well as I/M, but not CCA-IMT, reflect the known increased long-term cardiovascular risk of pre-eclampsia. Estimation of individual CCA layers using high-frequency ultrasound appears preferable to measuring CCA-IMT for investigating arterial effects and the increased cardiovascular risk in women with a history of severe pre-eclampsia.


cardiovascular disease; high-frequency ultrasound; intima thickness; intima/media ratio; media thickness; pre-eclampsia

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