Submission Date


Document Type

Paper- Restricted to Campus Access



Faculty Mentor

Beth Bailey

Student Contributor

Vikki Rueda-Juarez


Presented during the 21st Annual Summer Fellows Symposium, July 19, 2019 at Ursinus College.

Project Description

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Obesity is correlated with cardiac disease, and in America the obesity rate has reached an all-time high, with 40% of Americans considered to be obese. Obesity can also result in cardiac hypertrophy, which is the enlargement of the heart due to increased physiological needs of the body. During pregnancy, the added demands of the fetus result in cardiac hypertrophy and changes in cardiac function in the mother. The combination of pregnancy and obesity has been shown to increase female risk of cardiovascular disease. The goal of this project is to determine the effects of obesity and pregnancy on cardiac function in C57/B6 mice. We introduced a High Fat Western Diet (HFWD, 62% fat, 32% saturated fat) to C57/B6 mice. After five weeks of HFWD, the mice were bred, and the maternal hearts were studied at the late pregnancy stage (19 days gestation). We compared morphology (heart weight, body weight, cell size) and cardiac function of non-pregnant standard chow-fed, pregnant standard chow-fed, non-pregnant HFWD and pregnant HFWD. We hypothesize that the high fat western diet will result in an increase in body weight, cardiac hypertrophy, and changes in cardiac contractile function and these changes will be exacerbated during pregnancy.


Available to Ursinus community only.