Asthma & Heart Diseases in Pregnancy

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Asthma & Heart Diseases in Pregnancy

Are you wondering how your pregnancy/future pregnancies will be affected by your heart condition and/or asthma? Depending on severity, these conditions can be fatal to both you and your baby, as such you should speak to your doctor before conceiving or immediately after you find out you are pregnant. For more information on how these your condition may affect your pregnancy, visit us at 67th Street OB/GYN Total Women’s Health Care and consult with one of our OB/GYNs in Manhattan today. Below are some important facts you should know if you plan to become pregnant or are currently pregnant if you have either of the conditions mentioned above.

Asthma during Pregnancy

Asthma is a chronic lung disease that causes your airways to constrict, thereby making it difficult to breathe1. There are three categories in the progression of asthma during pregnancy. In the first category, a little less than a third of the women who have asthma see improvement in their condition. This case is usually seen in women with mild asthma. While in the second category, a third of the women with asthma will see no change in their asthmatic condition. In the third and final category, the asthmatic conditions of these women will get worse as their pregnancy progresses. This is usually the case for women with severe asthma. Asthmatic conditions that are not under control can lead to serious complications and in some cases be fatal to both the mother and baby.

What are the risks?

As asthma is a condition concerning the lungs and airways, lack of oxygen in both mother and child is a major concern. Below are some of the risks associated with asthma for both mother and child:

  • Low birthweight
  • Stillbirth
  • Fetal growth retardation
  • Preterm birth
  • Anemia in mother
  • Depression
  • Blood clots in the lungs of the mother, Pulmonary embolism
  • Preeclampsia before or after the weeks following delivery. This can be fatal if not treated properly and leads to many maternal deaths each year.
  • Higher chance of C-section

Heart conditions during Pregnancy

During pregnancy, the heart and the circulatory system are stressed. This is due to fact that a mother’s blood increases in volume by 30-50 percent in order to provide nourishment for the baby4. As a result, the heart pumps more blood per minute and the heart rate also increases. An expecting mother or woman who suffers from a heart condition would need to speak with her health provider and cardiologist before or immediately after finding out she is pregnant. This is because the extra stress placed on the mother’s body during pregnancy causes the heart to work a lot harder and depending on the severity of the heart condition, certain steps may need to be taken to ensure that both the mother and baby remain healthy5.

What are the risks?

Some heart conditions bear more risks for both the mother and baby and can be life-threatening. As such, in severe cases, women are advised to undergo major treatments (e.g. heart surgery) before conceiving. Below are some of the risks associated with heart diseases during pregnancy:

  • Increased chance of infection and blood clotting of the heart valves in women with heart valve issues.
  • Due to the increase in blood volume, women with congestive heart failure may have their conditions worsen.
  • Congenital heart conditions may be passed on to the baby
  • Premature birth
  • For women with heart rhythm issues, they may develop a minor abnormality with their heart rhythm. This is quite common in pregnancy and in more severe cases, a medication to treat this condition will be prescribed.

In some cases such as women suffering from the congenital heart condition known as Eisenmenger’s syndrome, pregnancy is advised against and not recommended. Eisenmenger’s Syndrome is a condition that results in high blood pressure that affects both the arteries in the lungs and the right side of the heart4.  In these situations, the risk to the mother’s life is very high.

In both asthma and heart conditions, weight gain should be monitored as excess gain can lead to added stress to the heart. Moreover, it is important to keep every prenatal appointment and maintain a healthy lifestyle (no smoking, illegal drugs, drinking alcohol etc.). Remember to contact your doctor if you are feeling anything out of the ordinary (e.g. tightness in the chest, less fetal movement, etc.). Schedule an appointment to speak with one of our dedicated obstetricians in Manhattan today.

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