Pregnancy is associated with dramatic alterations in maternal hemodynamics, which begin as early as 4 to 5 weeks of gestation. It has been proposed that these changes occur through autonomic control mechanisms, but the actual role of the autonomic nervous system in pregnancy is poorly understood. Here, we review what is known about the hemodynamic adaptation, changes in vascular endothelial function, sympathetic neural control and vascular responsiveness in pregnancy, and baroreflex function during pregnancy in humans. However, whether and how the sympathetic nervous system plays a role in hemodynamic homeostasis during early human pregnancy remains completely unknown. Understanding the pathophysiology underlying autonomic control of maternal hemodynamics may be particularly important for prevention of cardiovascular complications during pregnancy and may improve risk stratification and prevention of cardiovascular disease for women well beyond the postpartum period.
- Arterial pressure
- Vasomotor sympathetic activity
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Reproductive Medicine
- Obstetrics and Gynecology
- Physiology (medical)