Longitudinally Tracking Maternal Autonomic Modulation During Normal Pregnancy With Comprehensive Heart Rate Variability Analyses

Maretha Bester (Corresponding author), Rohan Joshi, Massimo Mischi, Judith O.E.H. van Laar, Rik Vullings

Onderzoeksoutput: Bijdrage aan tijdschriftTijdschriftartikelAcademicpeer review

7 Citaten (Scopus)
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Changes in the maternal autonomic nervous system are essential in facilitating the physiological changes that pregnancy necessitates. Insufficient autonomic adaptation is linked to complications such as hypertensive diseases of pregnancy. Consequently, tracking autonomic modulation during progressing pregnancy could allow for the early detection of emerging deteriorations in maternal health. Autonomic modulation can be longitudinally and unobtrusively monitored by assessing heart rate variability (HRV). Yet, changes in maternal HRV (mHRV) throughout pregnancy remain poorly understood. In previous studies, mHRV is typically assessed only once per trimester with standard HRV features. However, since gestational changes are complex and dynamic, assessing mHRV comprehensively and more frequently may better showcase the changing autonomic modulation over pregnancy. Subsequently, we longitudinally (median sessions = 8) assess mHRV in 29 healthy pregnancies with features that assess sympathetic and parasympathetic activity, as well as heart rate (HR) complexity, HR responsiveness and HR fragmentation. We find that vagal activity, HR complexity, HR responsiveness, and HR fragmentation significantly decrease. Their associated effect sizes are small, suggesting that the increasing demands of advancing gestation are well tolerated. Furthermore, we find a notable change in autonomic activity during the transition from the second to third trimester, highlighting the dynamic nature of changes in pregnancy. Lastly, while we saw the expected rise in mean HR with gestational age, we also observed increased autonomic deceleration activity, seemingly to counter this rising mean HR. These results are an important step towards gaining insights into gestational physiology as well as tracking maternal health via mHRV.

Originele taal-2Engels
Aantal pagina's16
TijdschriftFrontiers in Physiology
StatusGepubliceerd - 9 mei 2022


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