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Physical fitness, serum relaxin levels and blood pressure in pregnancy
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Caring Sciences, Family Medicine and Preventive Medicine.
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Study question: Are oxygen uptake and the pleiotropic hormone relaxin associated with the mechanism of blood pressure during pregnancy?

Summary answer: Diastolic blood pressure, but not systolic, displayed a significant reduction with increased oxygen uptake and increased serum relaxin levels.

What is known already: Data showing an inverse association between serum relaxin concentrations and either blood pressure during pregnancy or hypertension has been suggested. An association of oxygen uptake with blood pressure during pregnancy has not been previously reported.

Study design, size, duration: A prospective cohort study of 520 pregnant women in early pregnancy from March 2001 to June 2003.

Participants/materials, setting, methods: Baseline data collection in early pregnancy included submaximal cycle ergometer test and blood sampling. The participants were followed repeatedly throughout pregnancy with blood pressure measurements at Maternal Health Centers.

Main results and the role of chance: Oxygen uptake, serum relaxin concentrations, number of previous deliveries, and cigarette smoking were demonstrated to be negatively associated with, and height positively associated with (all independently) average diastolic blood pressure (p<0.0001) by multiple regression analysis. Similarly, number of previous deliveries, and cigarette smoking were negatively associated with, and height positively associated with, (all independently) systolic blood pressure (p=<0.0001)

Limitations, reasons for caution: The blood pressure was measured to the nearest 5 mmHg instead of the recommended 2 mmHg, which probably reduced the sensitivity to show only the strongest association to blood pressure.

Wider implications of the findings: The results give clinical implication for non-pharmacological approach of lowering of blood pressure during pregnancy in a public health perspective.

Keyword [en]
Blood pressure, pregnancy, oxygen uptake, physical exercise, relaxin.
National Category
Clinical Medicine
Research subject
Medical Science
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-203626OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-203626DiVA: diva2:637099
Available from: 2013-07-16 Created: 2013-07-16 Last updated: 2014-01-07
In thesis
1. Physical Fitness and Pregnancy
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Physical Fitness and Pregnancy
2013 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Objectives To assess physical fitness in pregnancy and to evaluate its effect on perceived health, back pain, blood pressure and duration of gestation. Also, to evaluate the effect of serum relaxin levels on blood pressure and duration of gestation.

Material and methods A prospective cohort of 520 pregnant women were examined in early pregnancy and five months postpartum with regard to socio-demographic characteristics and estimated peak oxygen uptake (V̇O2 peak, est.). Serum concentrations of relaxin were carried out in early pregnancy. Physical exercise, possible back pain and blood pressure were measured repeatedly throughout pregnancy.

Results Absolute V̇O2 peak, est. in early pregnancy was positively correlated to perceived health, which was lower during than after pregnancy. The average absolute V̇O2 peak, est. in early pregnancy of 2.4 l/minute was 0.02 l/minute less than the V̇O2 peak, est. postpartum, while regular physical exercise decreased throughout pregnancy. Absolute V̇O2 peak, est. in early pregnancy was not associated to the incidence of any low back pain location in pregnancy or postpartum, but inversely to intensity of back pain and diastolic blood pressure and positively with duration of gestation. Elevated serum relaxin levels were associated with decreased diastolic blood pressure and higher duration of gestation among women with miscarriage.

Conclusions Perceived health, diastolic blood pressure and duration of gestation were positively affected by physical fitness while no effect was shown on the incidence of back pain. The effect of physical fitness on duration of gestation and diastolic blood pressure might have clinical implications as well as the increased serum relaxin levels on miscarriages.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2013. 61 p.
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Medicine, ISSN 1651-6206 ; 913
Physical fitness, oxygen uptake, pregnancy, back pain, blood pressure, duration of gestation, relaxin, cycle ergometer test, physical exercise, perceived health
National Category
Family Medicine
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-203630 (URN)978-91-554-8699-0 (ISBN)
Public defence
2013-09-06, Rudbecksalen, Dag Hammarskjölds väg 20, Uppsala, 13:15 (Swedish)
Available from: 2013-08-15 Created: 2013-07-16 Last updated: 2014-01-07Bibliographically approved

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