Heart conditions and pregnancy: what mother-to-be should know

Getting good care before, during and after pregnancy remains crucially vital. It can help babies completely grow and develop. However, cardiac disease in the pregnant patients can present challenges in cardiovascular and maternal-fetal management. Pregnant patients diagnosed with heart disease might develop aggravating symptoms during pregnancy which is induced by related conditions that overwork the heart, resulting in greater chances of heart failure. Health check-up before pregnancy is extremely important. It greatly helps to identify possible risks and early detect abnormalities prior to being pregnant. Treatment plan can be given appropriately, resulting in healthy lives of both mothers and babies.


Heart conditions that are usually diagnosed during pregnancy

Abnormal heart conditions during pregnancy might include:

  • Rheumatic heart disease, a condition in which the heart valves have been permanently damaged by rheumatic fever.
  • Unexplained heart abnormalities.
  • Myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle caused by viral infections.

Heart disease in pregnant women

Warning signs and symptoms that might potentially indicate heart disease in pregnant women include swelling legs, high blood pressure, chest pain (angina), shortness of breath or breathing difficulty and irregular heartbeat. If these symptoms exhibit, it is highly recommended to: 

  • Seek immediate medical attention provided by highly experienced cardiologists and obstetricians-gynecologists.
  • Timely and accurately diagnose the presenting illness with risk assessment during pregnancy.
  • Receive appropriate, effective and safe treatments, depending on symptoms and disease severity. In case of certain heart conditions such as congenital heart defect, heart valve disease and rheumatic heart disease have been diagnosed, close monitoring treatment is essentially required to prevent serious complications including preeclampsia, life-threatening condition for both mothers and babies.

Additional suggestions that must be strictly followed include:

  • Prescribed medicines must be regularly taken. Taking drugs without prescription is strongly prohibited since certain drugs affect the growth and development of babies.
  • Special attention must be paid to avoid infections such as flu and urinary tract infection.
  • Remaining as healthy as possible e.g. proper exercise, sufficient rest and eating 5 food groups as advised by doctors.

Complications of heart disease in mother-to-be

Compared to non-pregnant women, pregnant women with heart disease do remain at greater risks for serious complications including heart failure that might lead to death of both mothers and babies. Regular  health check-up and heart screening before pregnancy are crucially needed since it greatly helps to early detect the abnormalities before pregnancy. Accurate and timely diagnosis leads to appropriate and effective treatment plans, resulting in healthy lives of both mother and babies.