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INTRODUCTION: Early-onset preeclampsia is associated with a greater risk of cardiovascular disease than late-onset preeclampsia. OBJECTIVES: We tested the hypothesis that young women, with previous early-onset preeclampsia, have unique differences in long term cardiovascular phenotype compared to late-onset preeclampsia or normal pregnancy. METHODS: 140 women (mean age 40 yrs) were followed up 6-13years following pregnancy. 90 had had preeclampsia (45 early onset (before 34 weeks of gestation), 45 late onset) and 50 had normotensive uncomplicated pregnancies. Women with cardiovascular risk factors present before pregnancy were excluded. Fasting lipids, glucose, insulin and circulating cytokines were measured. Central blood pressure (BP) and arterial stiffness (pulse wave velocity (PWV)/augmentation index (AI)) were assessed by applanation tonometry, common carotid intima media thickness (cIMT) by ultrasound and cutaneous capillary density by intravital microscopy. 46 women returned for assessment of cardiac structure and function by magnetic resonance and echocardiography as well as ambulatory blood pressure monitoring. RESULTS: All women with a previous history of preeclampsia had 5-10mmHg higher peripheral and central BP (P<0.001) as well as elevated total: HDL cholesterol (P<0.003), insulin resistance (P<0.04) and circulating TNFα (P<0.007). They also had increased arterial stiffness (P<0.04) and cIMT (P<0.005). Cardiac size and systolic function were preserved but there was evidence of abnormal diastolic relaxation (E/E' -P<0.04). In contrast early-onset preeclampsia was associated with characteristic differences in peri-pregnancy blood pressure, long term ambulatory measures and microvascular function. CONCLUSION: Early onset preeclampsia is associated with unique features in long term cardiovascular phenotype. Pregnancy disease characteristics may identify women at greatest potential benefit from monitoring and primary prevention.

Original publication




Journal article


Pregnancy Hypertens

Publication Date





259 - 260