Coronary Microvascular Function Following Severe Preeclampsia

Hypertension. 2024 Jun;81(6):1272-1284. doi: 10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.124.22905. Epub 2024 Apr 2.


Background: Preeclampsia is a pregnancy-specific hypertensive disorder associated with an imbalance in circulating proangiogenic and antiangiogenic proteins. Preclinical evidence implicates microvascular dysfunction as a potential mediator of preeclampsia-associated cardiovascular risk.

Methods: Women with singleton pregnancies complicated by severe antepartum-onset preeclampsia and a comparator group with normotensive deliveries underwent cardiac positron emission tomography within 4 weeks of delivery. A control group of premenopausal, nonpostpartum women was also included. Myocardial flow reserve, myocardial blood flow, and coronary vascular resistance were compared across groups. sFlt-1 (soluble fms-like tyrosine kinase receptor-1) and PlGF (placental growth factor) were measured at imaging.

Results: The primary cohort included 19 women with severe preeclampsia (imaged at a mean of 15.3 days postpartum), 5 with normotensive pregnancy (mean, 14.4 days postpartum), and 13 nonpostpartum female controls. Preeclampsia was associated with lower myocardial flow reserve (β, -0.67 [95% CI, -1.21 to -0.13]; P=0.016), lower stress myocardial blood flow (β, -0.68 [95% CI, -1.07 to -0.29] mL/min per g; P=0.001), and higher stress coronary vascular resistance (β, +12.4 [95% CI, 6.0 to 18.7] mm Hg/mL per min/g; P=0.001) versus nonpostpartum controls. Myocardial flow reserve and coronary vascular resistance after normotensive pregnancy were intermediate between preeclamptic and nonpostpartum groups. Following preeclampsia, myocardial flow reserve was positively associated with time following delivery (P=0.008). The sFlt-1/PlGF ratio strongly correlated with rest myocardial blood flow (r=0.71; P<0.001), independent of hemodynamics.

Conclusions: In this exploratory cross-sectional study, we observed reduced coronary microvascular function in the early postpartum period following preeclampsia, suggesting that systemic microvascular dysfunction in preeclampsia involves coronary microcirculation. Further research is needed to establish interventions to mitigate the risk of preeclampsia-associated cardiovascular disease.

Keywords: blood pressure; cardiovascular diseases; heart failure; preeclampsia; pregnancy.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Coronary Circulation* / physiology
  • Coronary Vessels / diagnostic imaging
  • Coronary Vessels / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Fractional Flow Reserve, Myocardial / physiology
  • Humans
  • Microcirculation / physiology
  • Microvessels / diagnostic imaging
  • Microvessels / physiopathology
  • Placenta Growth Factor / blood
  • Positron-Emission Tomography / methods
  • Postpartum Period
  • Pre-Eclampsia* / blood
  • Pre-Eclampsia* / physiopathology
  • Pregnancy
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Receptor-1* / blood
  • Vascular Resistance* / physiology