25 April 2002
Objective: The purpose of this study was to examine which hemodynamic parameters change under the natural volume overload of pregnancy. Study Design: 46 healthy pregnant women were echocardiographically examined during the course of pregnancy. To evaluate left ventricular diastolic function, mitral inflow and pulmonary venous flow profiles were used. Fractional shortening and left ventricular muscle mass were calculated. Results: In the course of pregnancy the left ventricular muscle mass index increased (from 66 ± 6 to 96 ± 9 g/m<sup>2</sup>), fractional shortening decreased (from 38 ± 4 to 32 ± 6%) and a disturbed diastolic relaxation pattern was documented. Eight weeks after delivery, all left ventricular systolic and diastolic functional parameters returned to normal values. Conclusion: The natural volume overload in pregnancy leads to a reversible ‘physiological’ left ventricular hypertrophy, a short-term decrease in systolic function and a significant change in left ventricular diastolic function.