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Objective To investigate serum cardiac troponin I, a sensitive marker of cardiac myocyte damage, in normal pregnancy and pregnancies complicated by hypertension with and without significant proteinuria.

Design Prospective cross sectional study.

Setting University hospital delivery suite.

Sample Serum samples obtained from women in normal pregnancy and in pregnancies complicated by hypertension with and without significant proteinuria.

Method Women with hypertension in pregnancy (at least two readings of systolic blood pressure > 140 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure > 90 mmHg) (n= 26) and normotensive women (n= 43) were included in the study. Serum cardiac troponin I was measured using Beckman Access immunoassay.

Main outcome measure Serum cardiac troponin I level in the pregnancies complicated by hypertension (with and without significant proteinuria) compared with the levels measured in normotensive women.

Results The median serum cardiac troponin I level in pregnancies complicated by hypertension was 0.118 ng/mL (n= 26) which was significantly greater than that measured in samples obtained from normotensive women in pregnancy (0.03 ng/mL; n= 43) (P < 0.0001). There were higher median serum cardiac troponin I levels in hypertensive women with significant proteinuria (0.155 ng/mL; n= 6), compared with those without proteinuria (0.089 ng/mL; n= 20; P= 0.03).

Conclusion Serum cardiac troponin I is elevated in women with hypertensive disorders of pregnancy indicating some degree of cardiac myofibrillary damage in these disorders.