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Pregnancy is recognized as a natural physiological stressor to the maternal cardiovascular system. Cardiovascular adaptation is markedly greater in twin pregnancy compared with singleton pregnancy; however, these changes are sparsely documented in triplet pregnancy. The aim of this case series was to compare maternal cardiac function, cardioautonomic regulation, and blood pressure reactivity in healthy singleton, twin, and triplet pregnancies. Resting cardiac structure and function (echocardiography), beat-by-beat blood pressure variability (BPV; photoplethysmography), and heart rate variability (HRV; electrocardiogram) were measured in two triplet, three twin, and three singleton pregnancies (matched for maternal age, prepregnancy body mass index, and gestational age). Hemodynamic responses to a 3-min cold pressor test were also recorded to assess blood pressure reactivity. Due to the small sample size of this case series, statistical comparisons were not made between groups. Compared with singleton and twin pregnancies, individuals pregnant with triplets had greater resting cardiac output but lower cardiac deformation (longitudinal strain, basal circumferential strain, and torsion), sympathetic dominance in cardioautonomic regulation (lower HRV and higher BPV), and elevated blood pressure reactivity in response to the cold pressor test. Taken together, these observations suggest that females with triplet pregnancies may have reduced cardiovascular function, which may contribute to the heightened risk of complications in multifetal pregnancies.NEW & NOTEWORTHY Individuals with healthy triplet pregnancies had greater resting cardiac output but lower left ventricular mechanics when compared with singleton and twin pregnancies matched for gestational age. In addition, triplet pregnancies had greater blood pressure variability and lower overall heart rate variability compared with singleton pregnancies, as well as greater blood pressure reactivity to the cold pressor test. Healthy triplet pregnancies may have reduced cardiovascular function as well as a greater sympathetic contribution to cardiac control.


Victoria L Meah, Rshmi Khurana, Lisa K Hornberger, Craig D Steinback, Margie H Davenport. Cardiovascular function during triplet pregnancy. Journal of applied physiology (Bethesda, Md. : 1985). 2021 Apr 01;130(4):1286-1292

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PMID: 33507851

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