(HealthDay News) – Preterm birth is associated with right ventricle structural and functional differences in young adults, with potential impairment of systolic function, according to research published in the Aug. 13 issue of Circulation.

Adam J. Lewandowski, DPhil, of the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, and colleagues used cardiovascular magnetic resonance imaging to investigate differences in right ventricular structure and function in 102 young adults with preterm birth and 132 adults with full-term birth.

The researchers found that preterm-born young adults had significant differences in the right ventricle, including smaller end diastolic volume and greater mass, compared with term-born adults; the degree of difference was proportional to gestational age at birth. Right ventricular ejection fraction was significantly lower in the preterm-born group (57 ± 8%) than in the control group (60 ± 5%). Among preterm-born adults, 21% had an ejection fraction less than the lower limit observed in term-born adults, and 6% had mild systolic dysfunction (<45%).

“Preterm birth is associated with global myocardial structural and functional differences in adult life, including smaller right ventricular size and greater mass,” the authors write. “The changes are greater in the right ventricle than previously observed in the left ventricle, with potentially clinically significant impairment in right ventricular systolic function.”

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