Preclinical atherosclerosis at the time of pre-eclamptic pregnancy and up to 10 years postpartum: systematic review and meta-analysis

N. M. Milic, J. Milin-Lazovic, T. L. Weissgerber, G. Trajkovic, W. M. White, V. D. Garovic

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Objectives: Pre-eclampsia (PE) is a pregnancy-specific hypertensive disorder that has been associated with cardiovascular risk factors and vascular changes, such as acute atherosis in placental blood vessels, similar to early-stage atherosclerosis. The objective of this study was to determine whether women with PE have increased atherosclerotic burden, as determined by the carotid intima–media thickness (CIMT), compared with women without PE. Methods: We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies that reported CIMT, a non-invasive, ultrasound-based measure of subclinical atherosclerosis, in women who did vs those who did not have PE. Studies were eligible if they had been conducted during pregnancy or during the first decade postpartum, and if CIMT was measured in the common carotid artery. Studies published before 7 March 2016 were identified through PubMed, EMBASE and Web of Science. Two reviewers used predefined forms and protocols to evaluate independently the eligibility of studies based on titles and abstracts and to perform full-text screening, data abstraction and quality assessment. Heterogeneity was assessed using the I2 statistic. Standardized mean difference (SMD) was used as a measure of effect size. Results: Fourteen studies were included in the meta-analysis. Seven studies were carried out during pregnancy complicated by PE, 10 were carried out up to 10 years postpartum and three included measurements obtained at both time periods. Women who had PE had significantly higher CIMT than did those who did not have PE, both at the time of diagnosis (SMD, 1.10 (95% CI, 0.73–1.48); P < 0.001) and in the first decade postpartum (SMD, 0.58 (95% CI, 0.36–0.79); P < 0.001). Conclusions: Atherosclerotic load is present at the time of PE and may be a mechanism associated with the disease. Measurement of CIMT may offer an opportunity for the early identification of premenopausal women with atherosclerotic burden after a PE pregnancy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)110-115
Number of pages6
JournalUltrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017


  • cardiovascular risk
  • intima–media thickness
  • meta-analysis
  • pre-eclampsia
  • subclinical atherosclerosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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