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Int J Cardiol. 1993 Jul 15;40(3):265-72.

Physiologic multivalvular regurgitation during pregnancy: a longitudinal Doppler echocardiographic study.

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Division of Cardiology, Escola Paulista de Medicina, Sao Paulo, Brazil.


Valvular function, assessed by Doppler technique, has not been extensively investigated during normal pregnancy. To prospectively study this feature, 18 normal pregnant women were followed during their pregnancies and puerperium, with serial clinical and pulsed-continuous Doppler echocardiographic examinations. In four gestational periods and the puerperium, we analysed: (a) ventricular and atrial dimensions, as well as valve annular diameters; (b) prevalence and characteristics of trivial valvular regurgitations. During pregnancy, slight but significant increases of the four cardiac chamber dimensions and valve annular diameters were observed, except for the aortic ring. The prevalence of physiologic valvular regurgitation in early pregnancy (mitral, 0%; tricuspid, 38.9%; pulmonary, 22.2%; aortic, 0%), was similar to a control group of 18 healthy non-pregnant women. As pregnancy evolved, there was a progressive and significant increase of multivalvular regurgitation, maximal at full-term (mitral, 27.8%; tricuspid, 94.4%; pulmonary, 94.4%, P < 0.05 vs. early pregnancy). Aortic regurgitation was not detected in any stage of pregnancy. In the puerperium, mitral regurgitation resolved, but tricuspid and pulmonary regurgitation were still significantly prevalent (83.3% and 66.7%, respectively, P < 0.05 vs. early pregnancy). It is concluded that physiologic multivalvular regurgitation is frequent in pregnancy, mainly involving right-sided valves in late gestational periods, occasionally persisting in the early puerperium. Chamber enlargement, valve annular dilatation, and increased prevalence of trivial valve regurgitation are time-related events during normal pregnancy, resulting from a reversible cardiac remodeling process induced by physiologic volume overload. These aspects should be considered for a correct interpretation of Doppler echocardiographic findings in pregnant women with suspected heart disease.

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