Potential increase of heart attacks among pregnant women

U.S. & World

Pregnancy is a workout!

All the feelings of nausea, heavy breathing, and overall discomfort aren’t just from weight gain. Inside, your organs are on a constant treadmill.

“Your heart is working harder,” says obstetrician/gynecologist Dr. Diana Racusin, who adds, “Your heart rate goes up, all those things are, your heart just works harder in pregnancy and any kind of heart disease can be exacerbated by that.”

Dr. Racusin, a maternal medicine doctor with UT Health, says due to more women coming into pregnancy with high blood pressure, obesity and older age, there is a risk of heart attacks happening more frequently in those cases.

Says Dr. Racusin, “People walk into pregnancy with these risk factors.”

If those risk factors lead to a heart attack, then things get tricky.

“In women, heart attack symptoms are non-specific. They can have nausea, they can have vomiting, they can have dizziness, they can have abdominal pain, they can have weakness,” says Dr. Racusin.

Since those symptoms go hand in hand with pregnancy, Racusin says it’s critical for women be as specific and honest as possible about their medical history, where they feel pain and how bad it is.

The key for mom and baby to identify heart problems or even survive a heart attack is catching it early meaning prenatal visits are *necessary*. If yours feels pointless, she says it’s an indication you’re healthy.

Dr. Racusin says, “So if we find nothing wrong and it’s a quick boring visit, that’s great!”

Dr. Racusin suggests women get a consultation before getting pregnant to be sure they are in optimal health.

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