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Pregnancy and Your Heart - Risk of disease.

When a woman is pregnant, one of the last things on her mind is the risk of heart disease.

Pregnant Couple embracing


But we should be speaking more about it.

Heart Disease is reportedly the leading cause of death related to pregnancy in lower-middle-income countries.

Some women are having babies at older age when they may have already developed heart problems/or a higher risk of heart disease.

But apart from this, women could develop heart problems during their pregnancy.


Pregnancy has sometimes been referred to as ‘a stress test for the body’: It could then cause severe complications for a woman who has pre-existing heart disease.


Some Effects on the Heart When Pregnant

Pregnancy stresses the heart (and circulation)

•When pregnant, your blood volume increases by up to 50% to cope with both mum and baby

•This means the heart is doing MORE work to pump blood around the mum’s body and into the baby through the placenta.

So the woman’s heart beats faster – which is the body’s way of accommodating the pregnancy.

During pregnancy, the risk of forming blood clots inside deep blood vessels is increased by 10 times compared to a no pregnant woman.

The blood clots can block blood flow in the vessels to different organs causing serious life-threatening illness like Pulmonary Embolism, or Stroke.

During labour/delivery, the heart works harder, also affecting the heart rate and blood pressure.


Heart Conditions That Could Affect Your Pregnancy

Nearly every heart condition can develop in or following a woman's pregnancy.

  • Problems that can affect a pregnant woman associated with Heart Disease:
    • High Blood Pressure
    • High Blood Cholesterol
    • Heart Attacks
    • Abnormal Heart Rhythm
    • Problem with Heart Valves
    • Problem with Heart Muscles
    • Blood Vessel Disease including Blood Clots

Recent research suggests that having Diabetes and hypertension during pregnancy as well as early delivery of the baby have been linked to increased risk of heart conditions years later.


Heart Disease - What's Your Risk?

Use our heart risk evaluation tool we designed especially for women to check your possible risk of heart disease.


More Reading

Hauwa's Pregnancy Story

Pulmonary Embolism - It happened to Serena Williams

Preventing Ladies' Toilet Infections

All About Symptoms of Ectopic Pregnancy

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Dr Sylvia Kama-Kieghe

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