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Heart Disease

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Introduction

Motherhood is one of the most celebratory phases in the entire period of a woman’s existence. But, bringing a new life in this world is not void of complications. Heart Disease in pregnancy is one such medical condition which troubles moms-to-be as pregnancy makes a woman’s bodywork more hard, thereby putting greater pressure on the heart.

Pregnancy is marked by an increase in blood volume i.e. the amount of blood in the body accompanied by enhanced cardiac output. As a result, it is normal for the heartbeat to increase by 10-15 beats per minute. However, blood pressure usually decreases due to the larger flow of blood towards the uterus for the baby’s nourishment. But, if you already have an outstanding heart problem, it can create complications in pregnancy. Such high-risk pregnancies will be monitored cautiously by both cardiologist and your gynecologist.

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What are the Causes of Heart Disease in pregnancy?

Since pregnancy increases the task of the cardiovascular system, mild symptoms of heart disease in pregnancy become quite evident. However, congenital heart defects that are present right from birth tend to affect a large proportion of women during pregnancy. Some of the causes which might aggravate the situation are:

  • ● A hole can be present either in the upper chamber or lower chamber of the heart. This leads to abnormal blood flow and puts a strain on the heart, often arriving at a situation when oxygen levels in the body decrease considerably.
  • Aortic Coarctation: Reduction in the blood flow to the heart and other blood vessels in the mother’s body. This also puts the baby at risk since blood can’t reach the placenta in such situations.
  • ● Abnormal configuration of Aorta which needs to be corrected before conceiving the baby.
  • If you had experienced cardiac problems before pregnancy, these can recur afterward. For instance, if you have artificial valves, this can complicate the pregnancy.
  • Marfan syndrome: This affects the connective tissues and harms the heart.

What are the Symptoms of Heart Disease in pregnancy?

In some cases, Heart Disease remains clandestine till the doctor declares pregnancy. Nonetheless, you can always keep a sharp eye on some of the early symptoms of heart disease such as:

  • ● High blood pressure
  • ● High Cholesterol
  • ● Shortness of breath even when enough air is present, a condition medically known as dyspnea
  • ● Heart murmur
  • ● Jugular venous distention- It’s a sign of increased pressure in vena cava which is the vein returning blood to the heart from the head and neck area
  • ● Abnormal heart rhythms such as the heart can start beating over 100 times in a minute
  • ● Reduced ejection fraction i.e. the amount of blood pumped by the left ventricle plummets to less than 40%.
  • Dependent Edema: Swelling in feet, legs, or hands.
  • Cardiomegaly: An enlarged heart that can be detected by an X-ray.

These symptoms usually surface during pregnancy but at the same time can be indicators of heart disease in pregnancy. Therefore, it is extremely important to get the real situation diagnosed by a doctor who will analyze the risk according to the NYHA classification.

How is Heart Disease in pregnancy Diagnosed?

Heart Disease in pregnancy is usually diagnosed based on echocardiography and the ensuing clinical evaluation. It’s simply an ultrasound of the heart. In case you have a congenital heart disorder, the doctor will carry out Fetal Echocardiography as well.

How is Heart Disease in pregnancy Treated?

The treatment for Heart Disease in pregnancy involves precautions during labor pains and delivery. Meanwhile, other medications for preventing heart failure are carried out by the doctor. On your part, you can avoid taking unusual stress, prevent weight gain by switching to a healthy diet, and focusing on rest so that your heart can rest too. On the day of delivery, a cardiologist must attend to the patient to control the situation in adverse circumstances since cardiac output increases rapidly with every uterine contraction while the mother tries to deliver.

Result

Heart Disease complicate 1-4% of all pregnancies and often lead to the death of the mother. Therefore, pregnancy is not advisable for women with high-risk heart disorders. Mild changes in the functioning of the heart are normal during pregnancy.

What are the Risks Associated with Heart Disease in pregnancy treatments?

Pregnancy becomes risky if you have an underlying heart problem. Over-medication can pose a problem to both mother and child. The doctor may even advise not to conceive in the future. Some of the other associated risks are:

  • ● Premature delivery
  • ● Excessive weight gain which becomes difficult to control
  • ● Separation of the placenta from uterus much before
  • ● Preeclampsia/ high increase in blood pressure

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FAQ's

Is Heart Failure Common in High-Risk Pregnancies?

A complete Heart Failure is a rare event these days. Though Heart Diseases are responsible for the majority of maternal deaths, advanced techniques of medical science have made deliveries possible for women with high-risk pregnancies as well.

How can I Prevent Heart Disease in Pregnancy?

A healthy diet and regular exercises under the doctor’s guidance are the best ways which prevent your heart from betraying you. Take a night of proper sleep, avoid smoking and keep a watch on your weight.

Is Heart Palpitation Normal in Pregnancy?

Heart Palpitations do not require any special treatment. As the blood volume in the body increases during pregnancy, it makes the heart pump blood faster. If symptoms are severe, the doctor can recommend medication to control the heartbeat.

What Heart Rate is not Normal for a Pregnant Woman?

A heartbeat over 100 beats per minute poses a risk of heart disease in pregnancy. In medical terms, such a situation is referred to as tachycardia.

Can Heart Defect in a Child be Detected Before Birth?

Yes, a fetal Echocardiogram helps in testing the health of the child’s heart.

Why is ECG Required in Pregnancy?

ECG or electrocardiogram helps in determining irregular heartbeats or a cardiac disorder existing before pregnancy. Therefore, it is recommended in pregnancy as a safety measure.

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