To explore the nature of postnatal cardiovascular morbidity following pregnancies complicated by preterm pre-eclampsia and investigate associations between pregnancy characteristics and maternal postnatal cardiovascular function.
This was an observational sub-study of a single-centre feasibility randomised double-blind placebo-controlled trial (https://www.clinicaltrials.gov; NCT03466333), involving women with preterm pre-eclampsia, delivering before 37 weeks. Eligible women underwent echocardiography, arteriography and blood pressure monitoring within three days of birth, six weeks and six months postpartum. Correlations between pregnancy and cardiovascular characteristics were assessed using Spearman’s correlation.
Main Outcome Measures
The prevalence of cardiovascular dysfunction and remodelling six months following preterm pre-eclampsia.
Forty-four women completed the study. At six months, 27 (61%) had diastolic dysfunction, 33 (75%) had raised total vascular resistance (TVR) and 18 (41%) had left ventricular remodelling. Sixteen (46%) women had de novo hypertension by six months and only two (5%) women had a completely normal echocardiogram. Echocardiography did not change significantly from six weeks to six months. Earlier gestation at delivery and lower birthweight centile were associated with worse six-month diastolic dysfunction (E/E’: rho=-0.39, p=0.001 & rho=-0.42, p=0.005) and TVR (rho=-0.34, p=0.02 & rho=-0.37, p=0.01).
Preterm pre-eclampsia is associated with persistent cardiovascular morbidity six months postpartum in the majority of women. These cardiovascular changes have significant implications for long-term cardiovascular health. The graded severity of diastolic dysfunction and TVR with worsening pre-eclampsia phenotype suggests a dose-effect. However, the mechanistic link remains uncertain.