Dynamic and steady state response of heart rate to orthostatic stress in normotensive and hypertensive pregnant women

Document Type



Biological and Biomedical Sciences


We determined the dynamic and steady state responses of heart rate (HR) to orthostatic stress (standing up) in normotensive and hypertensive pregnant women. Using a continuous recording with servo-photosphygmography, HR response to change in posture from left lateral recumbent position to standing was analysed. The subjects were divided into five groups comprising: Groups I, II and III: normotensive pregnant women in each of the three trimesters of pregnancy (total n = 77); Group IV: women with gestational proteinuric hypertension (GPH) in the third trimester (n = 16); Group V: age-matched non-pregnant normotensive controls (n = 15). The HR reacted with a typical overshoot response to this orthostatic change with HR rising to a peak and then settling to a new but higher steady state. Change in steady state HR from lying to standing (delta HR), rate of rise of HR in response to standing (i.e. the acceleration slope (HRon)), and rate of fall of HR after reaching the peak (i.e. deceleration slope (HRoff)) were evaluated from standing heart rate time curves. HRon in response to standing showed a downward trend with gestation (ANOVA, P < 0.05) in normotensive gravida. The deceleration slope (HRoff) showed a distinct gestational age-related decrease from first to third trimester in normotensive women (ANOVA, P < 0.01). The most striking observation was that the slope of HRoff for the GPH group was significantly steeper than that of normotensive women of comparable gestational age (unpaired t-test P < 0.01) and approximated to that of the non-pregnant group. The difference in HR response between normotensive women and those with GPH in the third trimester suggests it may have potential as a new marker for pre-eclampsia.


European Journal of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Biology