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INTRODUCTION: Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is more common in women who have had pregnancy complications such as spontaneous pregnancy loss. We used cross-sectional data from the UK Biobank Imaging Enhancement Study to determine whether pregnancy loss is associated with cardiac or vascular remodelling in later life, which might contribute to this increased risk. METHODS: Pregnancy history was reported by women participating in UK Biobank between 2006 and 2010 at age 40-69 years using a self-completed touch-screen questionnaire. Associations between self-reported spontaneous pregnancy loss and cardiovascular measures, collected in women who participated in the Imaging Enhancement Study up to the end of 2015, were examined. Cardiac structure and function were assessed by magnetic resonance (CMR) steady-state free precession imaging at 1.5 Tesla. Carotid intima-media thickness (CIMT) measurements were taken for both common carotid arteries using a CardioHealth Station. Statistical associations with CMR and carotid measures were adjusted for age, BMI and other cardiovascular risk factors. RESULTS: Data were available on 2660 women of whom 111 were excluded because of pre-existing cardiovascular disease and 30 had no pregnancy information available. Of the remaining 2519, 446 were nulligravid and 2073 had a history of pregnancies, of whom 622 reported at least one pregnancy loss (92% miscarriages and 8% stillbirths) and 1451 reported no pregnancy loss. No significant differences in any cardiac or carotid parameters were evident in women who reported pregnancy loss compared to other groups (Table 1). CONCLUSION: Women who self-report pregnancy loss do not have significant differences in cardiac structure, cardiac function, or carotid structure in later life to explain their increased cardiovascular risk. This suggests any cardiovascular risks associated with pregnancy loss operate through other disease mechanisms. Alternatively, other characteristics of pregnancy loss, which we were not able to take account of, such as timing and number of pregnancy losses may be required to identify those at greatest cardiovascular risk.

Original publication




Journal article


PLoS One

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