Pregnant women who have certain heart problems may have serious difficulties during pregnancy, according to some new research. During pregnancy, women need an increased “hemodynamic push” – the ability to move blood more effectively through the body and to the growing baby.
According to the research, women who have either congenital or valvular heart disease conditions showed significant decreases in heart function during pregnancy and even as long as six months after pregnancy.
The normal pattern for a pregnant women is an increase in cardiac output during early pregnancy that tends to level off over the course of the pregnancy. For women with heart trouble, the pattern was more like women who live in high altitudes, where heart function can be impaired.
A small but significant study
The study looked at 35 women who had structural heart defects. Of the 35 women, 32 were able to become pregnant. 29 of the women had complete information needed for the study.
The average patient age was 32, and for more than half of the women it was a first pregnancy. Four out of five of the women had some form or another of previous medical intervention due to their heart condition.
Complications in the study included miscarriage, preeclampsia, heart failure, sepsis, gestational hypertension, valve thrombosis, and even fetal death.
More research to be done
The results of the study suggest that there’s more to look at. Pregnancy seemed to have an impact on the women for at least six months after pregnancy, but that’s when the research stopped. More research is needed to see whether the problems caused by the heart defect during pregnancy are temporary or permanent.
Overall, the findings suggested that pregnancy has a negative impact on systolic function for women with a heart condition, as well as a progressively dysfunctional impact on diastolic function.