On average, there are about 3.7 million births each year in the United States, which means millions of women are pregnant in any given year. If you’re joining these numbers, you want to know how pregnancy affects your body and which areas of your health you should watch closely.
Just as they say you’re now eating for two, we heart health experts want to point out that your heart is beating for two (or more if you’re pregnant with multiples!)
When it comes to women’s heart health, there are unique concerns, and pregnancy is certainly one of them. At Upper East Side Cardiology, Dr. Satjit Bhusri works with women who are concerned about their heart health during pregnancy, and here’s what we want you to know.
An extra workload
As you can imagine (or already experienced), your body has its work cut out for it during your pregnancy. You’re carrying extra pounds, and nearly every system in your body is working hard to create and nurture a new human — and your cardiovascular system is a major player in these efforts.
As you progress through your pregnancy, the amount of blood circulating through your body gradually increases until there’s a 40-45% total increase in blood volume. This means your heart has to work harder to pump this additional blood, and there’s increased pressure in your blood vessels as they accommodate the extra volume.
By your third trimester, your heart is likely adding 10-20 beats per minute, and your cardiac output increases by up to 50%.
All of these increases are perfectly normal. If your cardiovascular system is in great shape, they shouldn’t pose any problems. Still, it’s worth noting that cardiovascular issues are the leading cause of life-threatening complications during pregnancy and in the postpartum period.
When there's cause for concern
There are two ways your heart health can come under fire during a pregnancy. In the first scenario, you enter your pregnancy with a pre-existing cardiovascular issue, such as coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, or heart failure. In these instances, we know about the issue beforehand and take great care during your pregnancy to monitor your cardiovascular health and mitigate the risks.
Some women enter pregnancy with no known heart-related issues, but develop them during pregnancy. The top issues include:
- Gestational hypertension
- Cardiomyopathy — a problem with the heart muscle
- Deep vein thrombosis
If your obstetrician notices an issue during your prenatal care, we can step in and help with the cardiovascular side.
Improve your long-term heart health during pregnancy
Since we’re on the subject of pregnancy and heart health, we want to draw your attention to a study that was released a few years ago. Researchers found that women who take steps to promote good heart health early in their pregnancy can also improve their heart health for long after the baby is born.
So, if you want to ensure that your heart health is in good shape during your pregnancy and beyond, we suggest you come see us for a preventive cardiology visit. To get started, please contact our New York City office on the Upper East Side of Manhattan to schedule an appointment. You can also call (212) 752-3464.