Heart Disease and Pregnancy
Dr. Lauren Frost, Cardiologist with Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute, explains women are supposed to conceive when they’re younger, because their hearts are healthier and it is assumed to be fine to carry a baby.
Women’s body responds with increase in heart rate for painful stimulus during labor, the doctor explains. If someone has valve disease or is born with congenital heart disease, she has a tough time and doctors elect to do a C-section.
blood volume actually increases by about 50%, so your cardiac output increases by about eight times normal. So you are working harder but that’s why women are supposed to conceive when they’re younger, because their hearts are healthier and it assumed to be fine to carry a baby, you also may get increase in heart rate, sometimes a drop in blood pressure depending where you are in pregnancy but there are dramatic changes in physiology during pregnancy. And I can relate to this next question which is when you’re in labor obviously it’s a very strenuous activity your heart rate is something that you need to keep an eye on. When I wanted to labor my heart rate went zoom shot up. I know. I was very nervous woman, I’m a little bit of an anxious individual, besides being somewhat energetic but the heart rate went up and they had to do an emergency c-section. So is that common during labor that there are… You know your body will respond with increase in heart rate for painful stimulus obviously blood loss at that time but most women can tolerate that because again they’re young and they have youth on their side, it’s women who may have valve disease or born with congenital heart disease that have a really tough time and we may elect to do a c-section something a little less strenuous on their heart. Exactly. Now what kind of heart conditions are common during pregnancy. We don’t use the word common, because I don’t want people to be worried about a pregnancy. About five percent of pregnancies in the US are complicated by some kind of heart disease, particularly we worry about hypertension because that can lead to preeclampsia, and as part of the syndrome of preeclampsia, which can lead to early births growth retardation of the babies, so we really want child for a high blood pressure and will pretty treat pretty aggressively if we see that in pregnant patients, and then if you have complications of your pregnancy whether it be high blood pressure diabetes that can impact women’s health later on. So I often will ask patients in their 50s or 60s, how is the health of your pregnancies because that helps me to feel out their risk for developing heart disease at that age.