To compare the elastic properties of the ascending aorta and ventricular–arterial coupling (VAC) in women with a previous pregnancy complicated by hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, and low platelets (HELLP) syndrome, women who experienced preeclampsia, and healthy controls.
Women with a history of preeclampsia (n = 60) or HELLP syndrome (n = 49) and matched healthy controls (n = 60) underwent transthoracic echocardiography at 6 months to 4 years after delivery. Aortic M-mode and tissue Doppler imaging (TDI) parameters were measured. Aortic diameters were assessed at end-diastole at four levels: Valsalva sinuses, sinotubular junction, tubular tract, and aortic arch. Aortic compliance, distensibility, stiffness index, Peterson's elastic modulus, pulse-wave velocity, and M-mode strain were calculated using standard formulae. Aortic expansion velocity, early and late diastolic retraction velocities, and peak systolic tissue strain (TDI-ε) were determined. VAC was defined as the ratio between aortic elastance (Ea) and left ventricular end-systolic elastance (Ees). All women were free from cardiovascular risk factors.
Women with a history of HELLP syndrome showed larger aortas than those with previous preeclampsia or controls, probably related to a higher blood pressure. Aortic elastic properties, including Ea, were similar between HELLP and preeclampsia groups, even comparing cases with early-onset preeclampsia and HELLP. In contrast, Ees was more impaired in the HELLP group than in the other two. Consequently, about one-quarter of women who experienced HELLP syndrome had a pathological VAC, whereas only 5% of previously preeclamptic patients did. Multivariate analysis confirmed the association between HELLP syndrome and VAC, whereas other parameters including aortic compliance, distensibility, stiffness index, and elastic modulus are linked only to gestational age at preeclampsia onset, ad also Ea and Ees did.
We found a significant overlap between the aortic elastic properties in women with a history of preeclampsia and those with a previous HELLP syndrome, suggesting a common pathophysiologic pathway. However, women who experienced HELLP syndrome showed a higher blood pressure than other cases and controls, probably determining larger aortas. In addition, VAC was more altered in the HELLP group than in the others because of a higher Ea and a lower Ees.