Preg­nant women dy­ing of heart is­sues

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS -

LON­DON: Women are dy­ing dur­ing preg­nancy be­cause they are un­aware that they have heart prob­lems, ex­perts have warned.

Heart disease is the lead­ing cause of ma­ter­nal death in the UK – but in 77% of cases the women were un­aware of a heart con­di­tion be­fore they be­came preg­nant, finds a study.

Doc­tors of­ten ig­nore the warn­ing signs, mis­tak­enly be­liev­ing heart prob­lems would not strike young women, it said.

Yet preg­nant women are at ex­tra risk be­cause of the strain car­ry­ing a baby places on the heart and for those with un­der­ly­ing con­di­tions preg­nancy can be fa­tal. The symp­toms of car­dio­vas­cu­lar disease can be masked by the preg­nancy.

Ex­perts said all women should ask rel­a­tives about their med­i­cal his­tory be­fore hav­ing a child, to check whether there is a fam­ily his­tory of heart prob­lems.

Ma­ter­nal death rates linked to heart prob­lems have dou­bled since the 1980s, the re­port re­veals.

The Con­fi­den­tial En­quiry into Ma­ter­nal Deaths found that one in four are linked to car­diac disease.

One of the au­thors, Dr Rachael James, a con­sul­tant car­di­ol­o­gist at Sussex Car­diac Cen­tre, Brighton, said the in­quiry high­lights, once again, that ac­tion needed to be taken to stop young women dy­ing from heart disease.

“Women try­ing for a baby or moth­ers-to-be should also look at their fam­ily his­tory for the pos­si­bil­ity of any un­di­ag­nosed in­her­ited heart con­di­tions, which are of­ten marked by the sud­den or un­ex­plained death of rel­a­tives.

“But the re­port also stressed that doc­tors need to take re­spon­si­bil­ity,” she added.

The au­thors wrote: “This re­port high­lighted many in­stances when preg­nant and post-par­tum women (those who have given birth) had clear symp­toms and signs of car­diac disease, which were not recog­nised, of­ten be­cause the di­ag­no­sis was sim­ply not con­sid­ered in a young preg­nant woman.

“There was ev­i­dence of a fo­cus on ex­clud­ing, rather than mak­ing, a di­ag­no­sis in women who pre­sented re­peat­edly for care.”

The ac­tual num­bers who die are small – 2.18 women per 100 000 ma­ter­ni­ties died of car­diac prob­lems dur­ing or soon af­ter preg­nancy be­tween 2012 and 2014, the re­port found.

This equates to roughly 17 ev­ery year – a quar­ter of the 67 women who die dur­ing preg­nancy or in the first six weeks af­ter a baby is born in the UK and Ireland each year.

But car­diac-re­lated preg­nancy deaths have more than dou­bled from 1.01 per 100 000 since 1985.

The au­thors said they have in­creased be­cause there are more older moth­ers, obe­sity is in­creas­ing and pathol­o­gists are bet­ter at spot­ting that death has been caused by heart prob­lems.

The re­port found that the most com­mon heart-re­lated cause of ma­ter­nal death was sud­den car­diac death fol­lowed by coro­nary heart disease. – Daily Mail

FOR BABY: Bellabeat fe­tal heart­beat lis­ten­ing sys­tem plugs into your smart­phone’s head­phone port and tracks the baby’s heart rate and lets you record the sound.

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