Research Article| Volume 290, P206-213, November 2019

Sub-clinical atherosclerosis in the common carotid artery in women with/without previous pre-eclampsia: A seven-year follow-up


      • Substantially affected arteries at follow-up 7 years after preeclamptic pregnancy.
      • Artery wall layer dimensions associated with CVD-risk factors and vascular inflammation.
      • In line with the documented increased risk of CVD later in life in pre-eclampsia.


      Background and aims

      Pre-eclampsia is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease and premature death. However, conventional common carotid artery intima-media thickness (CCA-IMT) measurement does not reflect this. In contrast, measurement of the individual CCA intima and media thicknesses clearly indicates increased vascular risk both at diagnosis and about one year after pre-eclampsia. This study examined whether individual CCA wall layers, risk factors for cardiovascular disease, and markers of endothelial dysfunction had normalized or remained unfavorable seven years after pre-eclampsia.


      The individual CCA intima and media thicknesses were measured using 22 MHz ultrasound. Conventional cardiovascular risk factors were recorded. A thick intima, thin media and high intima/media thickness ratio (I/M) are signs of sub-clinical atherosclerosis.


      The median age of women with previous pre-eclampsia (cases = 23) or normal pregnancies (controls = 35) was 39/37 years. At follow-up (median about seven years), the intima remained thicker and the I/M was higher in cases than in controls [all p < 0.0001; p < 0.001 after adjustment for time to follow-up, body mass index (BMI), and mean arterial pressure (MAP)], whereas the CCA-IMT was illogically thinner. Further, BMI, MAP, hip circumference, abdominal height, serum endostatin and apolipoprotein B levels were higher in cases (all p < 0.05). Intima and I/M measurements were correlated with age, MAP, endostatin and apolipoprotein B, whereas no logical correlations were found for CCA-IMT.


      The arteries in cases but not controls were still adversely affected after seven years. Measuring intima thickness and I/M appears preferable to measuring CCA-IMT for demonstrating vascular risk after pre-eclampsia.

      Graphical abstract


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      Linked Article

      • Pre-eclampsia and future cardiovascular diseases: How to assess the risk?
        AtherosclerosisVol. 290
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          In this issue of Atherosclerosis, Akhter and colleagues examined the cardiovascular risk in women with a history of pre-eclampsia and women with a history of normal pregnancies, performing repeat imaging (median follow up after pregnancy: 7 years) [1]. Imaging was performed using a high-resolution ultrasound system fitted with a broad-band probe at 22 MHz center frequency. The authors noted that the intima was thicker and the intima-to-media ratio was higher in pre-eclampsia cases compared to controls.
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