Changes in Retinal Microvascular Caliber Precede the Clinical Onset of Preeclampsia
Preeclampsia is a leading cause of maternal morbidity and mortality. The degree of maternal cardiovascular dysfunction that precedes the onset of preeclampsia is largely unknown. This prospective cohort study aimed to characterize differences in vivo in retinal microvascular caliber and blood pressure throughout pregnancy in relation to preeclampsia development. Women were recruited from Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney, Australia, of which 92 women were included in the study. Retinal images and blood pressures were collected at 13, 19, 29, and 38 weeks of gestation. Retinal vessels were analyzed as the central retinal arteriolar equivalent corrected for mean arterial blood pressure and the central retinal venular equivalent corrected for mean arterial blood pressure, using generalized linear models adjusted for age and body mass index. The preeclampsia group were significantly older (P=0.002) and had a significantly higher mean body mass index (P=0.005). The central retinal arteriolar equivalent corrected for mean arterial blood pressure was significantly reduced at 13 (P=0.03), 19 (P=0.007), and 38 (P=0.03) weeks of gestation in the preeclampsia group. The central retinal venular equivalent corrected for mean arterial blood pressure was also significantly lower at 13 (P=0.04) and 19 (P=0.001) weeks of gestation in the women who progressed to preeclampsia. This study directly documents increased peripheral resistance in vivo, observed as the combination of constricted retinal arterioles or venules and elevated blood pressure, in women who later developed preeclampsia. This difference preceded the clinical signs of preeclampsia.
- Received June 18, 2013.
- Revision received July 10, 2013.
- Accepted August 12, 2013.
- © 2013 American Heart Association, Inc.