History of preeclampsia is linked to poorer, smaller blood vessel health in later life

Microvascular Outcomes in Women With a History of Hypertension in Pregnancy

Having had preeclampsia increases a person’s risk for cardiovascular disease in later life. However, how preeclampsia and cardiovascular disease become linked is not yet clear. Research has shown small blood vessels don’t function properly during preeclampsia (called ‘microvascular dysfunction’), and one hypothesis to link preeclampsia and cardiovascular disease is that perhaps microvascular dysfunction continues for a long time after delivery, eventually leading to disease. In this study, researchers asked if persons with a history of preeclampsia have microvascular dysfunction long after preeclampsia by studying the small blood vessels in the eye. To answer this question, this study used data from 19,182 persons who were on average 28 years postpartum (on average 54 years old) at the time of their eye test; of which 281 (or 1.5%) had a history of preeclampsia or other hypertensive disorder of pregnancy. Results showed persons with a history of preeclampsia had lower eye blood vessel density, even after taking into account possible confounding variables like age, race, ethnicity, smoking status, body mass index, and diabetes.  

Take home message: This study showed that nearly 30 years after delivery, persons with a history of preeclampsia have reduced small blood vessel density in the eye. These results should be used to plan new studies monitoring and describing the changes in the small blood vessels during, early after, and later on from a delivery with preeclampsia to see if small blood vessel dysfunction is one of the causes leading to cardiovascular disease after preeclampsia.

Link: https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.121.057139?url_ver=Z39.88-2003&rfr_id=ori:rid:crossref.org&rfr_dat=cr_pub%20%200pubmed

Citation: Honigberg MC, Zekavat SM, Raghu VK, Natarajan P. Microvascular Outcomes in Women With a History of Hypertension in Pregnancy. Circulation. 2022 Feb 15;145(7):552-554. doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.121.057139. Epub 2022 Feb 14. PMID: 35157520; PMCID: PMC8875302.

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Each quarter, our team of researchers reviews the most current studies related to hypertensive disorders of pregnancy and selects those studies they feel will be of greatest interest to our community to summarize.

Special thanks to our volunteer research team, who under the leadership of Dr. Elizabeth Sutton, make Research Roundup possible: Alisse Hauspurg, MD Felicia LeMoine, MD Jenny Sones, PhD, DVM, and Robin Trupp, PhD, RN.

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