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Circulation. 1999 Feb 2;99(4):511-7.

Left ventricular diastolic function in normal human pregnancy.

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Department of Cardiology, St Luke's Episcopal Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine, Texas Heart Institute, Houston, USA.



Little information is available about changes in left ventricular diastolic function during pregnancy. We used mitral inflow and pulmonary venous flow profiles to evaluate left ventricular diastolic function in 37 healthy pregnant women 26 to 41 years old (mean, 32 years).


Echocardiographic studies were performed at the end of each trimester. Eight subjects (control group) underwent similar testing 1 to 3.5 months (mean, 1.7 months) postpartum. During pregnancy, the cardiac output increased significantly as a result of an increased heart rate and, to a lesser degree, stroke volume. Significantly decreased systemic vascular resistance and increased left ventricular mass were also noted. Peak mitral flow velocity in early diastole (E) increased 13. 3% during the first trimester and remained at the high end of normal throughout pregnancy. Peak A-wave velocity (A) increased maximally in the third trimester. Compared with control subjects, first-trimester subjects had a significantly increased E/A ratio. The ratio subsequently decreased, reflecting the augmented A-wave velocity. Pulmonary venous peak systolic forward flow velocity increased, peaking in the second trimester (nonsignificant), but returned to baseline levels postpartum. The pulmonary venous diastolic time-velocity integral decreased significantly from the first to the third trimester. Peak pulmonary venous reverse flow velocity at atrial contraction increased significantly, without being markedly changed in duration.


Pregnancy, a chronic, natural volume-overload state, has important effects on hemodynamic and echocardiographic variables. Based on pulmonary venous flow and left ventricular inflow velocities, our results provide a standard reference concerning diastolic filling dynamics by trimester.

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