Women with smaller-than-average fetuses may face heart problems

June 27, 2012
copyright American Heart Association

(Medical Xpress) -- Women pregnant with smaller-than-average fetuses may also need to worry about their long-term cardiovascular health risks, according to new research in the American Heart Association’s journal Hypertension.

Women diagnosed with fetal growth restriction (FGR) may also have an asymptomatic diastolic dysfunction in which the heart doesn’t work at peak efficiency during its relaxation phase.

FGR is an abnormality of pregnancy in which the fetus doesn’t grow as well as 90 percent of other fetuses. It can compromise the health of the infant, cause fetal distress and the need for early delivery.

“Women whose pregnancies are affected by FGR are known to have high risk of cardiovascular disease and death in the decades to come,” said Basky Thilaganathan, M.D., Ph.D., lead author of the study and Director of the Fetal Maternal Medicine Unit at St. George’s University of London. “Our findings help clarify how this risk develops so these women can be identified and receive preventative treatment.”

People with impaired left ventricle diastolic function have a high long-term risk of heart failure , researchers said.

“Clinicians should be aware of the maternal susceptibility to heart strain and failure in these pregnancies,” Thilaganathan said. “Lifestyle changes and medical interventions earlier in life could help these women reduce their risk of future cardiovascular disease and death.”

Women with FGR pregnancies also had a significantly higher body mass index (BMI) on average than the other study groups, researchers said. Greater BMI may be one of the causes of diastolic dysfunction. But the study design didn’t allow researchers to analyze cause and effect because women were recruited into the study at diagnosis of the disorder.

Previous research has established that pregnancy-induced high blood pressure or preeclampsia has long-term heart risks to the mother. FGR occurs without causing high blood pressure in the mother but has similar potential heart complications for the mother.

Pregnant women were recruited from St. George’s Hospital in London starting in 2008. Twenty-nine women with FGR, 25 women with preeclampsia and FGR and 58 women with normal pregnancies were compared.

The women had echocardiograms (ultrasound movie of the inside of the heart) and electrocardiograms (measures the electrical activity of the heartbeat), blood pressure readings, and other studies to measure heart function. These studies were done upon diagnosis of the FGR or pre-eclampsia, and at 12 weeks after delivery.

While FGR has many potential causes, researchers looked at women without pre-existing illnesses and fetuses without any known physical or genetic abnormalities.

Researchers said further studies are needed on cardiac dysfunction in these women after childbirth.

Co-authors are Karen Melchiorre, M.D., Ph.D.; George Ross Sutherland, M.D., Ph.D.; and Marco Liberati, M.D., Ph.D. Author disclosures are on the manuscript.

The University of Chieti in Italy funded the study.

Explore further: Women with preeclampsia in first 37 weeks of pregnancy at higher risk of heart problems in later life

Related Stories

Women with preeclampsia in first 37 weeks of pregnancy at higher risk of heart problems in later life

February 23, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- Women with preeclampsia in the first 37 weeks of pregnancy are at greater risk of developing heart problems in the years after giving birth than those who develop the condition in the final weeks, according ...

Is that sleepiness during pregnancy normal or a sign of sleep apnea?

February 10, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- Most pregnant women complain of being tired. Some of them however, could be suffering more than normal fatigue associated with their pregnancy; they may have developed obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a ...

Test for pre-eclampsia developed

May 4, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- Scientists at King’s have pioneered a new method of identifying early in pregnancy which healthy first-time mothers are at risk of developing pre-eclampsia, a potentially life threatening condition ...

Diabetes linked to higher rate of birth defects

February 7, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- Pregnant women with diabetes are almost four times more likely to have a baby with a birth defect than women without the condition and the likelihood is linked to the mother's glucose level, according ...

High blood pressure and pregnancy: Short- and long-term consequences

November 11, 2011
Two studies from the Mayo Clinic presented during the American Society of Nephrology's Annual Kidney Week provide new information related to high blood pressure during pregnancy.

Recommended for you

Could this protein protect people against coronary artery disease?

November 17, 2017
The buildup of plaque in the heart's arteries is an unfortunate part of aging. But by studying the genetic makeup of people who maintain clear arteries into old age, researchers led by UNC's Jonathan Schisler, PhD, have identified ...

New model estimates odds of events that trigger sudden cardiac death

November 16, 2017
A new computational model of heart tissue allows researchers to estimate the probability of rare heartbeat irregularities that can cause sudden cardiac death. The model, developed by Mark Walker and colleagues from Johns ...

Popular e-cigarette liquid flavorings may change, damage heart muscle cells

November 16, 2017
Chemicals used to make some popular e-cigarette liquid flavorings—including cinnamon, clove, citrus and floral—may cause changes or damage to heart muscle cells, new research indicates.

Possible use for botulinum toxin to treat atrial fibrillation

November 16, 2017
From temporarily softening wrinkles to easing migraines, botulinum toxin has become a versatile medical remedy because of its ability to block nerve signals that can become bothersome or risky.

Proteome of the human heart mapped for the first time

November 15, 2017
A healthy heart beats about two billion times during a lifetime, thanks to the interplay of more than 10,000 proteins. Researchers from the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) and the German Heart Centre at the Technical ...

First transcatheter implant for diastolic heart failure successful

November 15, 2017
Results presented today at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions and published in Circulation show that a new device designed to treat diastolic heart failure is safe and effective. The first patient in the randomized, ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.