Maternal diastolic function in asymptomatic pregnant women with bilateral notching of the uterine artery waveform at 24 weeks' gestation: a pilot study

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To study second-trimester maternal cardiac adaptation in asymptomatic patients at risk, on the basis of abnormal uterine artery Doppler, for the development of gestational hypertension or having a small-for-gestational age fetus. Fetal and maternal outcomes were verified at the end of pregnancy.


Thirty-six normotensive women with abnormal uterine artery waveforms underwent maternal echocardiographic examination at 24 weeks' gestation.


Twenty-one women (58.3%) subsequently showed normal outcome; 12 patients developed gestational hypertension (33.3%) and three (8.3%) had small-for-gestational age newborns. Left ventricular outflow tract, left ventricular diastolic dimensions and atrial and ventricular function were significantly lower in the pathological outcome group. Diastolic function parameters were significantly different between the two groups: peak mitral E-wave and A-wave and A-wave duration showed lower values in the pathological outcome group. Isovolumetric relaxation time of the left ventricle was significantly longer in the pathological outcome group. The prevalence of an altered geometric pattern was 14.3% (3/21) in the normal and 80% (12/15) in the pathological outcome groups (P < 0.001).


Women who subsequently develop a complication of pregnancy tend to display abnormal cardiac adaptation. An abnormal placentation process, expressed by an elevated resistance index and the presence of notches in the uterine artery waveform, are likely to cause an adaptative mechanism involving the whole cardiovascular system. A pathological outcome of pregnancy is associated with the failure of this process.

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