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BACKGROUND: Preterm preeclampsia is a pregnancy complication associated with myocardial dysfunction and premature cardiovascular disease morbidity and mortality. Left atrial (LA) strain is a noninvasive index of left ventricular end diastolic pressure and an early marker of heart failure risk. This study aimed to evaluate LA strain during the postpartum period in participants with and without preterm preeclampsia and to assess whether this varied in the presence of hypertension and/or cardiac dysfunction. METHODS: In this longitudinal cohort study, 321 women from 28 hospitals with preterm preeclampsia (cases) underwent cardiovascular assessment 6 months postpartum. This is a secondary analysis of the PHOEBE study (ISRCTN01879376). An uncomplicated pregnancy control group (n=30) was recruited from a single center for comparison. A full cross-sectional transthoracic echocardiogram was performed, and from these images, the myocardial strain of the left atrium, including reservoir, conduit, and contractile strain, as well as LA stiffness, were calculated. RESULTS: At 6 months postpartum, compared with controls, prior preeclampsia was associated with a significantly attenuated LA reservoir, conduit, and contractile strain, as well as increased LA stiffness (all P<0.001). LA strain was further reduced in preeclamptic women who had and had not developed hypertension, systolic, or diastolic dysfunction at 6 months postpartum (all P<0.05). CONCLUSIONS: LA mechanics were significantly attenuated at 6 months postpartum in participants with preterm preeclampsia, whether or not they remained hypertensive or had evidence of ventricular dysfunction. Further studies are needed to determine whether postnatal LA strain may identify women at greater risk for future cardiovascular disease.

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cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, infant, newborn, morbidity, pre-eclampsia