A new statement issued today by the American Heart Association emphasizes the importance of taking a multidisciplinary approach to the management of cardiovascular disease during pregnancy and outlines heart care before, during and after pregnancy.
Dr. Laxmi Mehta, a cardiologist at T he Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, chaired the statement, which described how cardio-obstetrics has become an important team in managing heart-related problems during pregnancy.
The number of pregnancy-related deaths in the United States has more than doubled over the last two decades and the main cause is cardiovascular disease, according to the American Heart Association.
Pre-existing conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure have contributed to the increased rate of death as well as advanced maternal age, which is associated with pre-term birth, preeclampsia and chronic hypertension.
Maternal mortality is on the rise, and the need is greater than ever for a cardio-obstetrics program like here at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. These pregnancy heart teams comprehensively manage cardiovascular disease during pregnancy and ultimately help reduce pregnancy-related deaths." Dr Laxmi Mehta, Director of Preventative Cardiology and Women'sCardiovascular Health, Wexner Medical Center.
A cardio-obstetrics team is often comprised of obstetricians, cardiologists, anesthesiologists, maternal fetal medicine specialists, geneticists, nurses and pharmacists who work together to develop a comprehensive approach for managing cardiovascular disease prior to, during pregnancy, delivery and postpartum.
The authors said preconception counseling by the cardio-obstetrics team is essential for women with pre-existing cardiac conditions or a history of preeclampsia, which is characterized by high blood pressure starting after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
"Being pregnant can put a lot of stress on the body, especially the heart," Mehta said. "During the first trimester of a normal pregnancy, the heart rate increases and blood pressure decreases. In the second and third trimesters, the heart rate and blood pressure increase and don't decrease until after birth. For those with certain cardiovascular diseases, these up-and-down swings can be dangerous." Related Stories
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