Amer J Perinatol 2017; 34(11): 1097-1101
DOI: 10.1055/s-0037-1603820
Original Article
Thieme Medical Publishers 333 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001, USA.

Impact of Pregnancy on Maternal Cardiac Atria

Robert B. Martin1, David B. Nelson1, Robert Stewart1, Susan Matulevicius2, Donald D. McIntire1, F. Gary Cunningham1
  • 1Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas
  • 2Division of Cardiology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas
Further Information

Publication History

04 May 2017

11 May 2017

Publication Date:
16 June 2017 (eFirst)


Objective The aim of this study was to assess atrial changes across pregnancy and postpartum using cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (cMRI) to measure atrial end-diastolic volume (EDV).

Study Design This was a 2-year prospective observational study of healthy nulliparous women. Each underwent serial cMRI in both maternal left lateral and supine positions at five epochs: 12 to 16 weeks, 26 to 30 weeks, 32 to 36 weeks, within 48 hours after delivery, and 12 weeks postpartum. EDV was calculated and compared with 12-week postpartum values.

Results A total of 24 women completed the study. One woman developed preeclampsia, and her data were excluded. Mean age was 27 ± 2.8 years, and mean body mass index was 25.4 ± 3.8 kg/m2. Left atrial EDV increased by 12 weeks (p = 0.045) and remained significantly elevated through 32 to 36 (p < 0.0001) weeks. Maternal lateral positioning was associated with larger left atrial EDV after 12 weeks. Right atrial EDV was significantly elevated at 26 to 30 (p = 0.04) and 32 to 36 (p = 0.02) weeks in the lateral position, though there was no difference in the supine position.

Conclusion We documented a significant increase in EDV for both atria during pregnancy. Volume changes were greater in the lateral compared with the supine position, with the most dramatic changes in left atrium at 32 to 36 weeks.


Portions of this manuscript were presented at the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine's 37th Annual Pregnancy Meeting Poster Session III on January 27, 2017 (Abstract # 508).