Pregnancy and Heart Disease

  • Practice Bulletin PB
  • Number 212
  • May 2019

ABSTRACT: Maternal heart disease has emerged as a major threat to safe motherhood and women’s long-term cardiovascular health. In the United States, disease and dysfunction of the heart and vascular system as “cardiovascular disease” is now the leading cause of death in pregnant women and women in the postpartum period 1 2 accounting for 4.23 deaths per 100,000 live births, a rate almost twice that of the United Kingdom 3 4. The most recent data indicate that cardiovascular diseases constitute 26.5% of U.S. pregnancy-related deaths 5. Of further concern are the disparities in cardiovascular disease outcomes, with higher rates of morbidity and mortality among nonwhite and lower-income women. Contributing factors include barriers to prepregnancy cardiovascular disease assessment, missed opportunities to identify cardiovascular disease risk factors during prenatal care, gaps in high-risk intrapartum care, and delays in recognition of cardiovascular disease symptoms during the puerperium. The purpose of this document is to 1) describe the prevalence and effect of heart disease among pregnant and postpartum women; 2) provide guidance for early antepartum and postpartum risk factor identification and modification; 3) outline common cardiovascular disorders that cause morbidity and mortality during pregnancy and the puerperium; 4) describe recommendations for care for pregnant and postpartum women with preexisting or new-onset acquired heart disease; and 5) present a comprehensive interpregnancy care plan for women with heart disease.

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