Dealing with Pregnancy and Heart Disease

Do you have a heart problem and your pregnant? Cardiovascular diseases complicate approximately one percent of all pregnancies. Usually, a pregnant woman with a heart problem would entail the care of a health care team that would include an internist, an obstetrician and a nurse.

During pregnancy, the heart exerts more effort because both blood volume and cardiac output increases. This generally occurs in the first 28 weeks of pregnancy and is sustained throughout the pregnancy. These changes result in detections of abnormal heart sounds, such as murmurs, and heart palpitations during pregnancy. Both of which are just the body’s response to the increased demand due to the presence of the infant.

The pregnant woman is in danger because of this increase in circulatory volume. The pregnant woman’s heart may become overwhelmed that it may not delivery blood properly. When this happens, oxygen and nutrients (both of which are carried by the blood) are not delivered to the cells and the fetus adequately. This condition may endanger the life of both the mother and the infant.

The type and extent of the heart disease determines if the woman can successfully undergo a complete pregnancy. This could be roughly classified as uncompromised, slightly compromised, markedly compromised and severely compromised.

o Women who are uncompromised are those who have no limitations in physical activity, no cardiac insufficiency and no anginal pain.

o Women who are slightly compromised are those who have slight limitation in physical activity and who experience palpitations, shortness of breath and anginal pain during physical activity.

o Women who are markedly compromised are those who have a marked limitation of physical activity and experience palpitations, shortness of breath and anginal pain during less than an ordinary physical activity.

o Women who are severely compromised are those who are unable to carry out physical activity.

Women who are uncompromised and slightly compromised usually undergo normal pregnancy. Women who are markedly compromised are advised to maintain bed rest during pregnancy. While, women who are severely compromised are described to be poor candidates of pregnancy.

The pregnant woman with a heart problem, be it mild or severe, should visit her obstetrician or family physician once she finds out that she is pregnant. The doctor would evaluate the client’s condition and establish baseline data of the client. The doctor and the other members of the health care team can also advise steps to attain a successful pregnancy. Prenatal care should be stressed and close assessment of the pregnant mother should be instated to monitor both the mother’s health and the growth and development of the fetus.

The following steps could help the pregnant woman with a heart problem:

1. Get enough rest

A woman with cardiac disease needs more rest than the average pregnant woman. Rest lessens the strain of the increased burden of the pregnant woman’s heart. Promotion of rest can include discontinuation of work and reduction of heavy physical activity like certain household work.

2. Eat healthy.

Nutrition is essential even to the average pregnant woman. Weight gain should be watched carefully because additional cells entail additional demand from the heart. It is also essential to monitor for anemia.

3. Be informed.

Like any condition, the pregnant woman should be informed regarding her specific heart condition. She can help herself be searching other alternatives that may help her during her pregnancy.

Heart problems are nothing to be lax about especially during pregnancy. Although a lot of new technologies have been established in dealing with heart problems, the woman with the heart problem should be extra careful during pregnancy. The essential course of action is of course through prevention and early detection of possible problems. These can be achieved through regular visits to the doctor and religiously following the doctor’s orders.

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