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PLoS One. 2019 Oct 23;14(10):e0223125. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0223125. eCollection 2019.

Does self-reported pregnancy loss identify women at risk of an adverse cardiovascular phenotype in later life? Insights from UK Biobank.

Author information

Oxford Cardiovascular Clinical Research Facility, Radcliffe Department of Medicine, Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, Radcliffe Department of Medicine, University of Oxford, John Radcliffe, Oxford, United Kingdom.
William Harvey Research Institute, NIHR Biomedical Research Centre at Barts, Queen Mary University of London, Charterhouse Square, London, Unite Kingdom, Barts Heart Centre, St Bartholomew's Hospital, Barts Health NHS Trust, West Smithfield, London, United Kingdom.
Department of Paediatrics, Children's Hospital, John Radcliffe, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom.
The Nuffield Department of Women's & Reproductive Health, Medical Science Division, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom.
Oxford Centre for Clinical Magnetic Resonance Research, Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, Radcliffe Department of Medicine, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom.



Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is more common in women who have had pregnancy complications such as spontaneous pregnancy loss. We used cross-sectional data from the UK Biobank Imaging Enhancement Study to determine whether pregnancy loss is associated with cardiac or vascular remodelling in later life, which might contribute to this increased risk.


Pregnancy history was reported by women participating in UK Biobank between 2006 and 2010 at age 40-69 years using a self-completed touch-screen questionnaire. Associations between self-reported spontaneous pregnancy loss and cardiovascular measures, collected in women who participated in the Imaging Enhancement Study up to the end of 2015, were examined. Cardiac structure and function were assessed by magnetic resonance (CMR) steady-state free precession imaging at 1.5 Tesla. Carotid intima-media thickness (CIMT) measurements were taken for both common carotid arteries using a CardioHealth Station. Statistical associations with CMR and carotid measures were adjusted for age, BMI and other cardiovascular risk factors.


Data were available on 2660 women of whom 111 were excluded because of pre-existing cardiovascular disease and 30 had no pregnancy information available. Of the remaining 2519, 446 were nulligravid and 2073 had a history of pregnancies, of whom 622 reported at least one pregnancy loss (92% miscarriages and 8% stillbirths) and 1451 reported no pregnancy loss. No significant differences in any cardiac or carotid parameters were evident in women who reported pregnancy loss compared to other groups (Table 1).


Women who self-report pregnancy loss do not have significant differences in cardiac structure, cardiac function, or carotid structure in later life to explain their increased cardiovascular risk. This suggests any cardiovascular risks associated with pregnancy loss operate through other disease mechanisms. Alternatively, other characteristics of pregnancy loss, which we were not able to take account of, such as timing and number of pregnancy losses may be required to identify those at greatest cardiovascular risk.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

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