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Reuters Health Information (2010-12-21): Long after complicated pregnancy, maternal cardiac problems develop


Long after complicated pregnancy, maternal cardiac problems develop

Last Updated: 2010-12-21 17:11:24 -0400 (Reuters Health)

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Many years after preeclampsia, women have an increased risk for cardiac dysfunction, Austrian researchers report in BJOG online November 18th.

The same is true for women who have the so-called HELLP syndrome during pregnancy (hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, and low platelets).

"Our study shows that even asymptomatic women many years after (preeclampsia or HELLP syndrome) have an increased risk for cardiovascular disease," lead author Dr. Isolde Strobl told Reuters Health by email.

Dr. Strobl and colleagues at Innsbruck Medical University say epidemiologists had suggested this might be the case. To find more evidence, they studied 48 "apparently healthy, asymptomatic women" who were an average of 43 years old, some 13 to 18 years after an index pregnancy. Fourteen women had been preeclamptic, 17 had HELLP syndrome, and 17 had normal pregnancies.

Echocardiography showed that the myocardial performance index (MPI), used to evaluate systolic and diastolic left ventricular function, was significantly elevated in the preeclampsia group (0.36) and the HELLP group (0.34) compared to controls (0.24).

It is not known "whether this elevated risk is a reflection of a common etiology of these diseases, or whether cardiovascular disease in these women is caused by HELLP syndrome or preeclampsia," the researchers write.

Nevertheless, Dr. Strobl said, "Prophylactic measures like lifestyle changes might be essential for these women in order to prevent adverse outcome later in life."


BJOG 2011;118:76-83.

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