Importance: Hypertensive disorders of pregnancy are associated with future cardiovascular disease, perhaps because of subclinical cardiac dysfunction before pregnancy leading to impaired adaptation to pregnancy. Natriuretic peptides are promising biomarkers for detecting subclinical cardiac dysfunction outside of pregnancy.
Objective: To investigate whether higher concentrations of N-terminal pro-brain natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP) in early pregnancy would be associated with hypertensive disorders of pregnancy and hypertension 2 to 7 years post partum.
Design, setting, and participants: This cohort study used data from the The Nulliparous Pregnancy Outcomes Study: Monitoring Mothers-to-Be Heart Health Study, a prospective multicenter observational study. A total of 4103 nulliparous women with complete data and no prepregnancy hypertension or diabetes who were treated at 8 clinical sites were included. Women were followed up with for 2 to 7 years after pregnancy. Data were collected from October 2010 to October 2017, and data were analyzed from August 2020 to November 2021.
Exposures: NT-proBNP concentration, measured using an electrochemiluminescence immunoassay from a first-trimester blood sample.
Main outcomes and measures: Hypertensive disorders of pregnancy and incident hypertension (systolic blood pressure of 130 mm Hg or diastolic blood pressure of 80 mm Hg or use of antihypertensive agents) at follow-up visit.
Results: A total of 4103 women met inclusion criteria; the mean (SD) age was 27.0 (5.6) years. Among these women, 909 (22.2%) had an adverse pregnancy outcome, and 817 (19.9%) had hypertension at the follow-up visit. Higher NT-proBNP concentrations were associated with a lower risk of hypertensive disorders of pregnancy (adjusted odds ratio per doubling, 0.81; 95% CI, 0.73-0.91), which persisted after adjustment for age, self-reported race and ethnicity, early-pregnancy body mass index, smoking, and aspirin use. Similarly, higher NT-proBNP concentration in early pregnancy was also associated with a lower risk of incident hypertension 2 to 7 years after delivery (adjusted odds ratio per doubling, 0.84; 95% CI, 0.77-0.93), an association that persisted after controlling for confounders, including hypertensive disorders of pregnancy.
Conclusions and relevance: In this cohort study, higher NT-proBNP concentrations in early pregnancy were associated with a lower risk of hypertensive disorders of pregnancy and hypertension 2 to 7 years post partum. These findings suggest that normal early-pregnancy cardiovascular physiology, as assessed by NT-proBNP concentration, may provide biologic insights into both pregnancy outcome and cardiovascular disease risk.