Hyperoxygenation in pregnancy exerts a more profound effect on cardiovascular hemodynamics than is observed in the nonpregnant state

Published:March 05, 2019DOI:


      Supplemental oxygen is administered to pregnant women in many different clinical scenarios in obstetric practice. Despite the accepted uses for maternal hyperoxygenation, the impact of hyperoxia on maternal hemodynamic indices has not been evaluated. As a result, there is a paucity of data in the literature in relation to the physiological changes to the maternal circulation in response to supplemental oxygen.


      The hemodynamic effects of oxygen therapy are under-recognized and the impact of hyperoxygenation on maternal hemodynamics is currently unknown. Using noninvasive cardiac output monitoring which employs transthoracic bioreactance, we examined the effect of brief hyperoxygenation on cardiac index, systemic vascular resistance, blood pressure, stroke volume, and heart rate in pregnant mothers during the third trimester, compared with those effects observed in a nonpregnant population subjected to the same period of hyperoxygenation.

      Study Design

      Hemodynamic monitoring was performed in a continuous manner over a 30-minute period using noninvasive cardiac output monitoring. Hyperoxygenation (O2 100% v/v inhalational gas) was carried out at a rate of 12 L/min via a partial non-rebreather mask for 10-minutes. Cardiac index, systemic vascular resistance, stroke volume, heart rate, and blood pressure were recorded before hyperoxygenation, at completion of hyperoxygenation, and 10 minutes after the cessation of hyperoxygenation. Two-way analysis of variance with repeated measures was used to assess the change in hemodynamic indices over time and the differences between the 2 groups.


      Forty-six pregnant and 20 nonpregnant women with a median age of 33 years (interquartile range, 26–38 years) and 32 years (interquartile range, 28-37 years) were recruited prospectively, respectively (P=.82). The median gestational age was 35 weeks (33–37 weeks). In the pregnant group, there was a fall in cardiac index during the hyperoxygenation exposure period (P=.009) coupled with a rise in systemic vascular resistance with no recovery at 10 minutes after cessation of hyperoxygenation (P=.02). Heart rate decreased after hyperoxygenation exposure and returned to baseline by 10 minutes after cessation of therapy. There was a decrease in stroke volume over the exposure period, with no change in systolic or diastolic blood pressure. In the nonpregnant group, there was no significant change in the cardiac index, systemic vascular resistance, stroke volume, heart rate, or systolic or diastolic blood pressure during the course of exposure to hyperoxygenation.


      Hyperoxygenation during the third trimester is associated with a fall in maternal cardiac index and a rise in systemic vascular resistance without recovery to baseline levels at 10 minutes after cessation of hyperoxygenation. The hemodynamic changes that were observed in this study in response to hyperoxygenation therapy during pregnancy could counteract any intended increase in oxygen delivery. The observed maternal effects of hyperoxygenation call for a reevaluation of the role of hyperoxygenation treatment in the nonhypoxemic pregnant patient.

      Key words

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