Research on Preeclampsia

SSI’s preeclampsia research focuses on the mechanisms underlying preeclampsia and how the disease affects a woman’s later risk of cardiovascular and vascular disease.

Areas of Focus

Our research efforts in the area of preeclampsia include register-based studies of the associations between preeclampsia and chronic illness (cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, dementia) later in life; studies of preeclampsia genetics; and clinical studies examining the relationship between a woman’s clinical preeclampsia phenotype, her serum biomarker profiles, and her cardiac function.

Research Projects and Results: Highlights

The PEACH (PreEclampsia, Angiogenesis, Cardiac dysfunction, and Hypertension) Study

Between September 2016 and May 2018, the PEACH Study recruited 700 pregnant women presenting to local obstetric departments with signs of preeclampsia and 400 healthy pregnant women. We collected blood samples from all PEACH participants and measured their cardiac function at multiple points throughout pregnancy, as well as one year postpartum. Using these data, we are investigating how cardiac function differs for women with preeclampsia and healthy pregnant women, developing new methods of classifying preeclampsia, and identifying preeclampsia subtypes where reduced cardiac function is most likely, during pregnancy and postpartum. We are also investigating how biomarker levels measured during pregnancy correlate with cardiac function during and after pregnancy.

The Genetics of HELLP Syndrome

The HELLP (hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, and low platelets) syndrome is an atypical form of preeclampsia in which a pregnant women does not necessarily have the high blood pressure characteristic of preeclampsia but instead has other signs of severe organ dysfunction. Using biological material from the Danish National Biobank, we conducted a genome-wide association study to investigate whether there are specific gene variants that are unique to women who develop the HELLP-syndrome, compared with women with normal pregnancies and women who develop “normal” preeclampsia, and that therefore could help to explain the mechanisms underlying this unusual pregnancy complication. 

Heather Boyd


Heather Boyd, Senior Researcher, Epidemiologisk Forskning / Infektions- og cancerepidemiologi
T. +45 32688187 @. View profile