Pregnancy causes all kinds of changes in woman's body. We often overlook the impact on a woman's heart.
Matt Breen, Reporting, "We usually do not relate pregnancy with any significant heart problems. So what can happen to the heart of pregnant women?" Dr. Ramin Artang, Mercy Cardiology says, "There are several physiological changes with the women's heart during pregnancy, that is not always sign of problem but just sign of changes happening with the body. The most common one is the heart squeezes stronger and the heart rate gets faster since the heart is now working for 2 people. This cause increase flow through the heart chambers and heart murmur as the result of that. So this person who did not have a history of murmur now being examined for pregnancy and we are hearing a murmur which can worry both the doctor and the patient. Majority of the time it is completely benign and just sign of increased flow. We as cardiologist get asked to evaluate these ladies and we do a cardiac ultrasound and show them that everything is fine and there is nothing to worry about."
Matt Breen, Reporting, "How about less common and more serious conditions?" Dr. Ramin Artang, Mercy Cardiology says, "In about 5%-7% of pregnancy the person may develop high blood pressure. This could either be in a person with borderline or known high blood pressure before the pregnancy, or occur during pregnancy. The high blood pressure by itself is not very serious for the mother or child but needs to be treated. If this blood high blood pressure is associated with increased amount of protein loss in the urine which means some degree of kidney damage, which again occurs in 6%-8% of pregnancies, then it start to get more serious and requires more close monitoring and aggressive treatment of the blood pressure. This condition is called Pre-eclampsia and is the precursor of another much more serious but rare condition known as Eclampsia, that happens late in pregnancy that besides very high blood pressures causes mental status change, seizures and respiratory failure. The treatment usually is the get the baby out if the baby is ready or close to be ready in order to save both their lives."
Matt Breen, Reporting, "Who is at risk of developing Pre-eclampsia? Dr. Ramin Artang, Mercy Cardiology says, "The risk factors in no particular order are: First timers, twin or triplet pregnancies, family history of pre-eclampsia, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, kidney disease. If the mother feels very short of breath after the child birth out of proportion of what one would expect after vaginal delivery or C-section, 2 things comes to mind, one is blood clot in the lungs, and the other is pregnancy associated heart failure. Again 2 rare conditions that we can talk about on a different session later."
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