Higher Heart Disease Risk for Premature Babies

By  , Agency News
Aug 14, 2013

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Higher heart disease risk for preemies

  • Babies born prematurely may be at risk of developing cardiovascular disease later in life- a new study states
  • The right ventricle - in the former preemies' was smaller but heavier, with thicker walls and less pumping capacity
  • Patients born premature may need advice from their healthcare provider about this cardiovascular risk

According to a new study published in American Heart Association’s journal Circulation, babies born prematurely may be at risk for structural heart abnormalities.

a premature babyThis condition can increase their chances of developing cardiovascular disease later in life.

The study tracked 102 premature babies from birth into their 20s and compared them 132 people born at full-term. The results showed that in adulthood, the right lower heart chamber- the right ventricle- was smaller but heavier in premature, leading to less pumping capacity.

"Up to 10 per cent of today's young adults were born prematurely and some have an altered higher cardiovascular risk profile in adult life," said Professor Paul Leeson, who led the group of researchers and is a Cardiologist at the University of Oxford's Cardiovascular Clinical Research Facility in England.

"We wanted to understand why this occurs so that we can identify the small group of patients born premature who may need advice from their healthcare provider about this cardiovascular risk. The changes we have found in the right ventricle are quite distinct and intriguing," Leeson said.

The earlier the birth, the greater the impact on right ventricle- the study stated. Slightly smaller differences in size and function in the heart’s left ventricle were reported in previous research by Leeson’s group.

In older adults, changes in the right ventricle's structure and function may increase risks of heart failure and cardiovascular death.

The researchers conducted standard heart evaluations including blood pressure and cholesterol but also used more sophisticated magnetic resonance imaging techniques to measure participants' hearts and blood vessels. With the help of computer programmes they developed models of the hearts to analyse their unique structure and work out how much blood is being pumped.


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