Background/objectives: Pre-eclampsia (PE) is associated with profound changes in the maternal cardiovascular system. The aim of the present study was to assess whether alterations in the maternal arterial stiffness precede the onset of PE in at risk women.
Methodology/principal findings: This was a cross sectional study involving 70 pregnant women with normal and 70 women with abnormal uterine artery Doppler examination at 22-24 weeks of gestation. All women had their arterial stiffness (augmentation index and pulse wave velocity of the carotid-femoral and carotid-radial parts of the arterial tree) assessed by applanation tonometry in the second trimester of pregnancy, at the time of the uterine artery Doppler imaging. Among the 140 women participating in the study 29 developed PE (PE group) and 111 did not (non-PE group). Compared to the non-PE group, women that developed PE had higher central systolic (94.9 ± 8.6 mmHg vs 104.3 ± 11.1 mmHg; p = < 0.01) and diastolic (64.0 ± 6.0 vs 72.4 ± 9.1; p < 0.01) blood pressures. All the arterial stiffness indices were adjusted for possible confounders and expressed as multiples of the median (MoM) of the non-PE group. The adjusted median augmentation index was similar between the two groups (p = 0.84). The adjusted median pulse wave velocities were higher in the PE group compared to the non-PE group (carotid-femoral: 1.10 ± 0.14 MoMs vs 0.99 ± 0.11 MoMs; p < 0.01 and carotid-radial: 1.08 ± 0.12 MoMs vs 1.0 ± 0.11 MoMs; p < 0.01).
Conclusions/significance: Increased maternal arterial stiffness, as assessed by pulse wave velocity, predates the development of PE in at risk women.