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Hypertension. 2016 Apr;67(4):754-62. doi: 10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.115.06667. Epub 2016 Jan 25.

Maternal Cardiovascular Function in Normal Pregnancy: Evidence of Maladaptation to Chronic Volume Overload.

Author information

1
From the Fetal Maternal Medicine Unit, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, St George's University of London, London, United Kingdom (K.M., A.K., B.T.); Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Santo Spirito Hospital, Pescara, Italy (K.M.); and Department of Cardiology and Cardiothoracic Surgery, St George's University of London, London, United Kingdom (R.S.).
2
From the Fetal Maternal Medicine Unit, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, St George's University of London, London, United Kingdom (K.M., A.K., B.T.); Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Santo Spirito Hospital, Pescara, Italy (K.M.); and Department of Cardiology and Cardiothoracic Surgery, St George's University of London, London, United Kingdom (R.S.). basky@pobox.com.

Abstract

The aim of this study was to investigate cardiac functional status in pregnancy using a comprehensive approach taking into account the simultaneous changes in loading and geometry, as well as maternal age and anthropometric indices. This was a prospective cross-sectional study of 559 nulliparous pregnant women assessed at 4 time points during pregnancy and at 1 year postpartum. All women underwent conventional echocardiography and tissue Doppler velocities and strain rate analysis at multiple cardiac sites. Mean arterial pressure and total vascular resistance index significantly decreased (both P<0.001) during the first 2 trimesters of pregnancy and increased thereafter. Stroke volume index and cardiac index showed the opposite trend compared with mean arterial pressure and total vascular resistance index (both P<0.05). Myocardial and ventricular function were significantly enhanced in the first 2 trimesters but progressively declined thereafter. By the end of pregnancy, significant chamber diastolic dysfunction and impaired myocardial relaxation was evident in 17.9% and 28.4% of women, respectively, whereas myocardial contractility was preserved. There was full recovery of cardiac function at 1 year postpartum. Cardiovascular changes during pregnancy are thought to represent a physiological adaptation to volume overload. The findings of a drop in stroke volume index, impaired myocardial relaxation with diastolic dysfunction, and a tendency toward eccentric remodeling in a significant proportion of cases at term are suggestive of cardiovascular maladaptation to the volume-overloaded state in some apparently normal pregnancies. These unexpected cardiovascular findings have important implications for the management of both normal and pathological pregnancy states.

KEYWORDS:

LV hypertrophy; diastolic dysfunction; echocardiography; pregnancy; remodeling; tissue Doppler

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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