Pregnancy is associated with marked maternal cardiovascular/hemodynamic changes. A greater number of pregnancies may be associated with long-term subclinical changes in left ventricular (LV) remodeling.
Among 2,234 white, black, Hispanic, and Chinese women (mean age 62 years) in the MESA, we used linear regression to relate live births and cardiac magnetic resonance imaging LV measures. Covariates included age, ethnicity, height, income, education, birth country, smoking, menopause, and oral contraceptive duration. Models were additionally adjusted for potential mediators: systolic blood pressure, antihypertensive use, total/high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, triglycerides, diabetes, and body mass index. We performed sensitivity analyses excluding 763 women in the lowest socioeconomic group: annual income <$25,000 and lower high school level of education.
With each live birth, LV mass increased 1.26 g; LV end-diastolic volume, 0.74 mL; and LV end-systolic volume, 0.45 mL; LV ejection fraction decreased 0.18% (P trend <0.05). Changes were most notable for the category of women with ≥5 pregnancies. Upon adjustment for potential biologic mediators, live births remained positively associated with LV mass and end-systolic volume. Live births remained significantly associated with LV end-systolic, end-diastolic volumes, and LV mass (P trend ≤0.02) after excluding women in the lowest socioeconomic group.
Number of live births is associated with key LV structural and functional measures in middle to older ages, even after adjustment for sociodemographic factors and cardiovascular disease risk factors. Hemodynamic changes during pregnancy may be associated with cardiac structure/function beyond childbearing years.