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Heart disease and pregnancy Cell-free DNA prenatal screening test infographic.


Heart Disease and Pregnancy (Text Version)

[Illustration of a pregnant figure in front of a heart and the line of a heart rhythm graph]

Every year, there are more and more women with heart disease during and after pregnancy. Heart disease can be a serious problem during and after pregnancy, and it’s one reason why pregnancy-related deaths are rising in the United States.

Understanding the warning signs and risk factors of heart disease can help you

  • Speak up for yourself [illustration of a pregnant figure with a speech bubble]
  • Get the care you need [illustration of a doctor]

What Are the Warning Signs of Heart Disease During or After Pregnancy?

Call your obstetrician–gynecologist (ob-gyn) or other health care professional right away if you...

  • Faint or pass out [illustration of a pregnant figure looking dizzy]
  • Feel unusually tired [illustration of a pregnant figure looking tired]
  • Are out of breath with little or no physical activity [illustration of lungs]
  • Have heart palpitations [illustration of a heart]
  • Have chest pain [illustration of a pregnant figure clutching her chest]
  • Have severe swelling [illustration of a swollen foot and ankle]

What Factors Are Linked to Higher Rates of Maternal Death Due to Heart Disease?

Many cases of maternal mortality, or death during or shortly after pregnancy, are due to heart disease. The risk of death is higher for some women than for others. Talk with your ob-gyn to learn more.

Age over 40: Women over age 40 are much more likely to die from heart-related pregnancy complications. [illustration of a calendar]

Race/ethnicity: Black, American Indian, and Alaskan Native women are more likely to die from heart-related pregnancy complications than Asian, white, and Hispanic women. [illustration of three figures in a globe]

High blood pressure: Pregnant women with high blood pressure are more likely to have heart problems during or after delivery. [illustration of a figure having her blood pressure taken]

Obesity: Women who are obese before pregnancy are more likely to die due to a pregnancy-related heart problem. [illustration of a scale]

Your Future Health

If you are diagnosed with heart disease during pregnancy, you may need to see your ob-gyn earlier or more often after childbirth so they can keep a close eye on your health. You also should tell any future health care professionals that you had heart problems during pregnancy.

Remember

Sometimes heart disease symptoms can feel like normal pregnancy symptoms. Talk with your ob-gyn if you have any of the warning signs. It’s important to share what you’re feeling, especially if something feels wrong. Ask if you may be at risk for heart disease.

[Illustration of a pregnant woman speaking with a doctor]

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PFSI017: This information was designed as an educational aid to patients and sets forth current information and opinions related to women’s health. It is not intended as a statement of the standard of care, nor does it comprise all proper treatments or methods of care. It is not a substitute for a treating clinician’s independent professional judgment. Please check for updates at www.acog.org to ensure accuracy.

Copyright January 2020 by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, posted on the internet, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission from the publisher.