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Prenatal biochemical screening and long term risk of maternal cardiovascular disease: population based cohort study


Objective — To examine whether abnormal prenatal biochemical screening results are associated with an increased risk of premature cardiovascular disease after pregnancy.

Design — Population based cohort study.

Setting — The entire province of Ontario, Canada, where healthcare is universally available.

Participants — Women aged 12-55 years, without pre-existing cardiovascular disease, who underwent prenatal screening between 1993 and 2011. One pregnancy per woman was randomly selected.

Exposures — Low (≤5th centile multiple of the median) serum total chorionic gonadotropin, unconjugated estriol, and pregnancy associated plasma protein A and high (≥95th centile multiple of the median) alphafetoprotein and dimeric inhibin-A.

Main Outcome Measures — Composite of hospital admission or revascularisation for coronary artery, cerebrovascular, or peripheral arterial disease or hospital admission for heart failure or dysrhythmia at least 365 days after pregnancy.

Results — Among 855 536 pregnancies, and after a median of 11.4 (interquartile range 6.8-17.5) years of follow-up, 6209 women developed the main cardiovascular disease outcome. Abnormal results for each of the five prenatal biochemical screening analytes, especially dimeric inhibin-A, were associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease. Women with an abnormally high dimeric inhibin-A (≥95th centile) had the highest rate of cardiovascular disease (30 events or 8.3 per 10 000 person years versus 251 events or 3.8 per 10 000 person years for those <95th centile; multivariable adjusted hazard ratio 2.0, 95% confidence interval 1.4 to 3.0). Compared with women without any abnormal biochemical measure, the hazard ratio for the cardiovascular disease composite outcome was 1.2-1.3 times higher with one abnormal analyte and 1.5-2.0 times higher with two or more abnormal analytes.

Conclusions — Women with abnormal prenatal biochemical screening results, especially for dimeric inhibin-A, may be at higher risk of cardiovascular disease. If these findings are replicated elsewhere, a massive amount of data exists that could aid in identifying women at higher risk of premature cardiovascular disease and that could be conveyed to them or their healthcare providers.



Ray JG, Huang T, Meschino WS, Cohen E, Park AL. BMJ. 2018; 362:k2739. Epub 2018 Jul 11.

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