Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

BACKGROUND: Experimental and clinical studies show that prematurity leads to altered left ventricular (LV) structure and function with preserved resting LV ejection fraction (EF). Large-scale epidemiological data now links prematurity to increased early heart failure risk. OBJECTIVES: The authors performed echocardiographic imaging at prescribed exercise intensities to determine whether preterm-born adults have impaired LV functional response to physical exercise. METHODS: We recruited 101 normotensive young adults born preterm (n = 47; mean gestational age 32.8 ± 3.2 weeks) and term (n = 54) for detailed cardiovascular phenotyping. Full clinical resting and exercise stress echocardiograms were performed, with apical 4-chamber views collected while exercising at 40%, 60%, and 80% of peak exercise capacity, determined by maximal cardiopulmonary exercise testing. RESULTS: Preterm-born individuals had greater LV mass (p = 0.015) with lower peak systolic longitudinal strain (p = 0.038) and similar EF to term-born control subjects at rest (p = 0.62). However, by 60% exercise intensity, EF was 6.7% lower in preterm subjects (71.9 ± 8.7% vs 78.6 ± 5.4%; p = 0.004) and further declined to 7.3% below the term-born group at 80% exercise intensity (69.8 ± 6.4% vs 77.1 ± 6.3%; p = 0.004). Submaximal cardiac output reserve was 56% lower in preterm-born subjects versus term-born control subjects at 40% of peak exercise capacity (729 ± 1,162 ml/min/m2 vs. 1,669 ± 937 ml/min/m2; p = 0.021). LV length and resting peak systolic longitudinal strain predicted EF increase from rest to 60% exercise intensity in the preterm group (r = 0.68, p = 0.009 and r = 0.56, p = 0.031, respectively). CONCLUSIONS: Preterm-born young adults had impaired LV response to physiological stress when subjected to physical exercise, which suggested a reduced myocardial functional reserve that might help explain their increased risk of early heart failure. (Young Adult Cardiovascular Health sTudy [YACHT]; NCT02103231).

Original publication




Journal article


J Am Coll Cardiol

Publication Date





1347 - 1356


cardiac function, echocardiography, ejection fraction, heart failure, myocardial reserve, premature, preterm, Adolescent, Adult, Case-Control Studies, Echocardiography, Exercise Test, Female, Humans, Infant, Premature, Male, Stress, Physiological, Ventricular Dysfunction, Left, Young Adult