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International Angiology 2017 August;36(4):362-7

DOI: 10.23736/S0392-9590.16.03327-7


language: English

Impaired central arterial elasticity in young adults born with intrauterine growth restriction

Pier Paolo, BASSAREO 1 , Luca SABA 2, Melania PUDDU 3, Vassilios FANOS 3, Giuseppe MERCURO 1

1 Department of Medical Sciences “M. Aresu”, University of Cagliari, Cagliari, Italy; 2 Department of Radiology, University of Cagliari, Cagliari, Italy; 3 Department of Surgery, Section of Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and Puericulture, University of Cagliari, Cagliari, Italy


BACKGROUND: Intrauterine growth retardation and prematurity at birth constitute risk factors for future cardiovascular adverse events. Some previous reports have highlighted that subjects born preterm may develop peripheral arterial dysfunction. However, central (aortic) arterial distensibility has not yet been fully investigated in these subjects.
METHODS: Sixty subjects were enrolled: thirty were high grade ex-preterm subjects (10 males [M] and 20 females [F], aged 17-28, mean 20.1±2.5 years). They were compared with 30 healthy, age-matched subjects born at term (C, 10 M and 20 F). Central aortic elasticity was assessed non-invasively by calculating two indexes derived from echocardiographic and blood pressure measures: aortic root distensibility and aortic stiffness index.
RESULTS: Aortic distensibility was significantly lower (P<0.0001), and aortic stiffness index was significantly higher (P<0.0001) in former preterm individuals than in controls. The above stated indexes were correlated with birth weight (r=0.78, P<0.0001 and r=-0.41, P=0.02, respectively), as well as with gestational age (r=0.54, P=0.002 and r=-0.37, P=0.04, respectively). When excluding the influence of body mass index, intrauterine growth restriction - expressed as birth weight - remains the only determinant of impaired central arterial elasticity.
CONCLUSIONS: Since aortic distensibility usually impairs in time, former preterm subjects appear to have a “vascular age” older than their healthy born at term peers. This finding may have important implications for cardiovascular morbidity in later life.

KEY WORDS: Vascular stiffness - Echocardiography - Blood pressure - Fetal growth retardation

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