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PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Around 10% of the global population is born preterm (< 37 weeks' gestation). Preterm birth is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular events, with preterm-born individuals demonstrating a distinct cardiac phenotype. This review aims to summarize the main phenotypic features of the preterm heart and directions for future research to develop novel intervention strategies. RECENT FINDINGS: Being born between 28 and 31 weeks' gestation results in a 4-fold higher risk of heart failure in childhood and adolescence and 17-fold increased risk when born less than 28 weeks' gestation. In support of this being due to a reduction in myocardial functional reserve, preterm-born young adults have an impaired left ventricular cardiac systolic response to moderate and high intensity physiological stress, despite having a preserved resting left ventricular ejection fraction. Similar impairments under physiological stress were also recently reported regarding the right ventricle in young adults born preterm. Preterm birth relates to a unique cardiac phenotype with an impaired response to stress conditions. These data, combined with the work in animal models, suggest that being born preterm may lead to a novel form of cardiomyopathy. Understanding the driving mechanisms leading to this unique cardiac phenotype is important to reduce risk of future heart failure and cardiovascular events.

Original publication




Journal article


Curr Treat Options Cardiovasc Med

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Cardiac phenotype, Cardiac remodeling, Cardiomyopathy, Heart failure, Hypertension, Preterm birth