Guarding the Heart During Pregnancy
If you are planning to have a baby, taking good care of your health, especially your heart, is important.
“During pregnancy, there are extra demands that get placed on the heart,” says Nazanin Moghbeli, MD, medical director of the Cardiac Care Unit at Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia. “People who are thinking about having a baby should be sure their heart is as healthy as it possibly can be in order to prepare. “
Pregnant patients who have conditions like obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol should pay special attention to these conditions, which can put them at higher risk for heart disease. These conditions can also put them at higher risk for complications, including pre-term labor and preeclampsia.
“If you have diabetes going into your pregnancy, you’re at higher risk for complications,” says Dr. Moghbeli. “But, if you’re a diabetic, and a smoker, and have high blood pressure, each of those things makes it that much harder for the heart to pump extra blood through your circulatory system.”
Heart disease is now the leading cause of death during pregnancy and the postpartum period for new mothers. In fact, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology reports that 26.5% of pregnancy-related deaths are due to heart disease.
Good pre-pregnancy heart care means managing weight, cutting back on alcohol and not smoking, Dr. Moghbeli says.
Weight should be managed by eating plenty of fruits, vegetables and fiber and getting regular exercise, even just walking. “If you are out of shape or a smoker, you will struggle more with pregnancy-related changes to your cardiovascular health,” says Dr. Moghbeli.
Patients with heart conditions should consult with both a cardiologist and an OB/GYN before trying to get pregnant to find out what precautions they might need to take. It’s also important to discuss any medications or supplements you are taking with your doctor, to be sure they don’t pose a risk to your baby. Einstein Cardiology and Obstetrics have the expertise to guide you through a healthy pregnancy.
“If you have heart disease, your cardiologist and your OB/GYN can and should work together to manage your pregnancy and make sure it is as healthy and safe as possible for you and your baby,” says Dr. Moghbeli.
To make an appointment with Dr. Moghbeli, call 215-456-3930.