You rarely hear about heart disease or stroke in pregnancy but it is actually becoming more common as younger women enter pregnancy with ongoing health problems like high blood pressure or diabetes.
Maternal stroke or heart disease is still very rare but on the rise, says the CDC. Across a lifetime, heart disease and stroke are 2 of the leading 3 causes of death for women. These problems also contribute to 1 in 10 pregnancy-related deaths in the US.
A stroke is a bleed in the brain tissue or lack of blood flow to the brain caused by a blood clot or blockage in an artery. Heart disease in pregnancy can be related to diabetes, gestational high blood pressure, preeclampsia, high cholesterol and getting pregnant at an unhealthy weight, such as being obese when conceiving.
If you have any of these health conditions before becoming pregnant, you’re already at an increased risk for problems during pregnancy. As pregnancy progresses, for example, you could be at risk for suffering an event that affects your heart or circulatory system, particularly during labor and following birth.
If you’re considering pregnancy, be proactive and discuss your health status with your care provider. Talk about your plans and learn how you may be able to minimize your risks of pregnancy complications.
Learn what signs and symptoms to watch out for, such as a sudden, severe headache. Ask when you need to call your care provider or seek immediate care. Most experts agree that any sudden symptom needs immediate attention. You know your own body and health best; it’s always better to ask for advice before any health problem gets out of control.
You can reduce your risk of a heart attack or stroke during pregnancy by being proactive with your health: