Preeclampsia Is Associated With Persistent Postpartum Cardiovascular Impairment
Preeclampsia is associated with asymptomatic global left ventricular abnormal function and geometry during the acute phase of the disorder. These subclinical abnormalities in cardiac findings are known to be important in cardiovascular risk stratification for nonpregnant patients. Furthermore, epidemiological studies have also demonstrated a relationship between preeclampsia and cardiac morbidity and mortality later in life. The aim of this study was to evaluate the postpartum natural history and clinical significance of asymptomatic left ventricular impairment known to occur with acute preeclampsia. This was a prospective longitudinal case-control study of 64 subjects with preeclampsia and 78 matched controls. There were 3 time point assessments, pregnancy and 1 and 2 years postpartum. The assessments included a medical and family history, blood pressure profile, echocardiography, and 12-lead ECG. At 1 year postpartum, asymptomatic left ventricular moderate-severe dysfunction/hypertrophy was significantly higher in preterm preeclampsia (56%) compared with term preeclampsia (14%) or matched controls (8%; P values <0.001). The risk of developing essential hypertension within 2 years was significantly higher in both preterm preeclamptic women and those with persistent left ventricular moderate-severe abnormal function/geometry. The cardiovascular implications of preeclampsia do not end with the birth of the infant and placenta. The majority of preterm preeclamptic women have stage B asymptomatic heart failure postpartum, and 40% develop essential hypertension within 1 to 2 years after pregnancy. Women with a history of preterm preeclampsia may benefit from formal cardiovascular risk assessment in the 1 to 2 years after delivery to identify those who would benefit from targeted therapeutic intervention.
- Received May 17, 2011.
- Revision received June 17, 2011.
- Accepted July 18, 2011.
- © 2011 American Heart Association, Inc.