Cardiovascular effects of aerobic exercise training in formerly preeclamptic women and healthy parous control subjects

Ralph R. Scholten*, Dick J. H. Thijssen, Fred K. Lotgering, Maria T. E. Hopman, Marc E. A. Spaanderman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


OBJECTIVE: Women who have had preeclampsia demonstrate higher prevalence of metabolic syndrome (MetS), impaired vascular function, and increased sympathetic activity and are at increased risk of cardiovascular disease. The aim of this study was to assess the effects of 12 weeks of exercise training (70-80% maximum volume of oxygen utilization) in women who had had preeclampsia on physical fitness, components of MetS, vasculature, and autonomic functions compared with healthy control subjects. STUDY DESIGN: Our prospective case-control study included 24 normotensive women who had had preeclampsia and 20 control subjects who were matched for age and postpartum interval (all 6-12 months after delivery). Before and after training, we measured all components of MetS (ie, BP, lipids, glucose/insulin, and albuminuria), carotid intima media thickness (IMT) and brachial and superficial femoral artery endothelial function that used flow-mediated dilation (FMD). Autonomic activity was quantified with power spectral analysis (low-frequency/high-frequency power [LF/HF] ratio). RESULTS: At baseline, women who had had preeclampsia demonstrated higher values of most components of MetS. Compared with the control subjects, women who had had preeclampsia had increased IMT (580 +/- 92 mu m vs 477 +/- 65 mu m, respectively), impaired endothelial function (FMD brachial artery, 5.3% +/- 2.2% vs 10.8% +/- 3.5%, respectively; FMD superficial femoral artery, 4.9% +/- 2.1% vs 8.7% +/- 3.2%, respectively) and increased LF/HF power ratio (2.2 +/- 1.0 vs 1.3 +/- 0.4, respectively; all P <.05). In both groups, exercise training decreased values of most components of MetS and IMT, improved FMD, and concurrently reduced LF/HF. Despite these improvements, vascular and autonomic variables did not normalize by 12 weeks of training in women who had had preeclampsia. CONCLUSION: This study demonstrates that exercise training in women who had had preeclampsia and control subjects improves components of MetS, endothelial function, vascular wall thickness, and autonomic control. Nonetheless, trained women who had had preeclampsia only reached a cardiovascular status that is comparable with sedentary healthy control subjects.
Original languageEnglish
Article number5160
JournalAmerican Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2014


  • dysfunction
  • endothelial function
  • exercise training
  • metabolic syndrome
  • preeclampsia

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