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Maternal Death-Cardiac Disease

Heart disease creates health issues between one and four percent of pregnant women. Congenital heart disease ranks as the most frequently diagnosed health condition already present before pregnancy, with hypertension ranking as the leading medical condition that develops during pregnancy.

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The incidence of maternal cardiovascular disease has increased over the past several decades because of a number of factors. Although diagnostic testing of congenital heart disease has discovered more cases of the potentially life-threatening ailment, other risk factors have emerged to place pregnancies at risk.

Here are the leading risk factors pregnant women face for contracting cardiac disease:

Elk & Elk
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Hyperlipidemia
  • Metabolic Syndrome

The increase of the average age of women who are pregnant has also contributed to the increase in the rate of heart disease. Physiological changes that occur during pregnancy can place stress on a compromised cardiovascular system, which leads to potentially life-threatening medical conditions for both the mother and the fetus.

Physiological Changes

Pregnancy causes a significant change in the circulatory system. A vast majority of the circulatory changes begin to happen during the first trimester, with the most significant changes occurring during the second trimester. The blood output and rate of beating generated by the heart jumps between 30% and 50%, with blood pressure decreasing by approximately 10mm Hg because of the decrease in artery resistance. Research has uncovered that women that are pregnant experience a heart rate increase that ranges between 10 and 15 beats per minute.

The third trimester introduces body position as one of the possible causes of increased heart rate, which leads to the gravid uterus producing caval compression. The subsequent decrease in the return of the venous prompts the development of supine hypertension. Blood volume, which typically increases during the first and second trimesters, drops during the third trimester of pregnancy.

Signs of Cardiac Disease During Pregnancy

The signs of heart complications to look for while pregnant are the signs medical professionals look for in standard cardiac illness cases. Signs and symptoms of the pregnancy-related cardiovascular disease can include fainting, sudden fatigue, sharp chest pain, shortness or irregular breathing patterns, sleep apnea, and heart palpitations. Large blood volume and pressure changes can initiate fainting spells, which should motivate those who are pregnant to seek medical attention immediately. Breathing difficulties often result from long stints in a lying position that places too much pressure on the larger than average uterus. The awareness of a change in the heartbeat rate derives from the diaphragm moving up the chest while pregnant.

Ohio State Heart Disease Program

The Ohio State Adult Congenital Heart Disease in Pregnancy Program represents one of the few programs in the United States that implements a medical team approach to providing health care for women during pregnancy. The medical professionals at Ohio State collaborate with physicians who work with the Women’s Heart Health program at Ross Hospital.

The medical team at Ohio State has access to advanced technology and information resources to offer the medical support required to diagnose and help treat cardiac disease that develops or exacerbates while pregnant.

The State of Cardiac Disease for Pregnant Women

With the numerous health complications associated with cardiovascular disease during pregnancy, the health care industry has developed strategies to manage patients to prevent cardiac issues, as well as mitigate the health issues associated with the disease. The complexity of this medical condition often requires an approach that uses multiple medical disciplines, such as cardiologists, obstetricians, and anesthesiologists.