Heart issues during pregnancy can pose unique challenges

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Women with existing heart disorders usually can give birth safely and with no negative consequences for the baby. However, women with moderate to severe heart failure before pregnancy are at significant health risk. For some patients, pregnancy with heart issues is not advised. Sometimes, heart conditions develop or are revealed during pregnancy. Here’s what you need to know about heart issues in pregnancy.

Signs of heart issues during pregnancy

During pregnancy, a woman’s blood volume increases anywhere from 20% to 100%, with the average being 45%. The heart must work harder, which can cause high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiomyopathy or preeclampsia. This additional stress on the heart during pregnancy also can reveal conditions such as a congenital heart defect, heart valve disease or an arrhythmia by making symptoms more clear.

Symptoms of heart issues during pregnancy include:

  • Chest pain
  • Lightheadedness or fainting
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Severe shortness of breath
  • Swelling of the hands, feet, lower legs or ankles

It is extremely important to talk to your health care provider before you become pregnant or when you become pregnant if you have any preexisting heart conditions. If you do become pregnant, it is important to visit your health care provider regularly during the pregnancy. Your provider will take your blood pressure and check urine samples to be sure you are staying healthy.

The Norton Heart & Vascular Institute Women’s Heart Program offers the latest diagnostic and therapeutic advances to treat heart conditions before, during and after pregnancy. Our team is specially designed to provide the highest level of care for mom and baby. Board-certified specialists diagnose and treat heart conditions at any point in a woman’s life, including heart disorders during pregnancy.

What to Expect at Norton Heart & Vascular Institute Women’s Heart Program

  • Specialized cardio-obstetrics expertise in preventing and caring for heart conditions focusing on the times surrounding pregnancy and menopause.
  • Comprehensive care for conditions that have unique risks and implications for women, including high blood pressure, atrial fibrillation, ischemic heart disease and spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD).
  • Board-certified cardiologists with specialized experience and focus on women’s heart health are dedicated to serving as advocates for conditions that are often can go unrecognized.
  • The women’s heart health specialists are part of a team of providers dedicated to your health, including close collaboration with Norton Women’s Care and Norton Children’s Maternal-Fetal Medicine, providing high risk pregnancy care.
  • Medicare, Medicaid and most major commercial insurance plans accepted.
  • Book appointments, get alerts when an earlier appointment becomes available, communicate with your medical provider, refill prescriptions and more through your free Norton MyChart account.

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