How to manage cardiac conditions in pregnancy

How to manage cardiac conditions in pregnancy

When a woman is pregnant her cardiac output increases by between 30 to 45 per cent as she doubles her blood volume, this means women who have pre-existing, or underlying heart conditions need additional care during their pregnancy.  
 
Dr Michelle Butler, is a cardiologist who specialises in managing women with heart conditions through pregnancy at Mater Private Hospital Brisbane
 
Michelle explains pregnancy can exacerbate heart conditions in women or potentially expose previously undetected heart conditions throughout the pregnancy. 
 
“I see women with all sorts of heart conditions including congenital heart disease, rhythmic conditions and any form of heart disease that has impacted the heart muscle,” Michelle said. 
 
“It’s advisable to have pre-pregnancy check up with your cardiologist before you conceive to discuss and potentially change your medication, understand any risks involved, conduct any necessary testing and find an appropriate obstetrician to manage the pregnancy.
 
“We often find women have the most difficulty between weeks 28-30 before things calm down again as their cardiac output begins to decrease. It will increase again in labour to about 30 per cent output for the duration of the labour.”  
 
Michelle works collaboratively with Mater Obstetricians at the Mater Mothers’ Hospital's providing a continuum of care for women on their pregnancy journey. 
 
“For some women, heart conditions and problems can arise during pregnancy most commonly in the form of breathlessness or irregular heartbeats. This is common in pregnancy as the baby grows and heart works harder,” Michelle said. 
 
“It is always best to be checked if you’re experiencing any of these problems.  The good news is we can usually tell very quickly and easily what the problem is and give the mother the care she needs to get through the pregnancy safely.” 
 
The advice Michelle would give to women with cardiac conditions who were pregnant or planning a pregnancy is to seek the appropriate health care. 
 
“It’s important you have regular contact with your doctor and follow the care plan they have set out for you and ensure you are taking a pregnancy safe medication,” Michelle said. 
 
“Many women I see have been scared into thinking they can’t have children or will be high-risk, that is not always the case and pregnancy with a heart condition is not as scary as it seems.
 
“Most women with a heart condition can have a healthy pregnancy with a normal delivery if they are managed appropriately, it’s what we do every day.”   
 
Dr Michelle Butler practices at Mater Private Hospital South Brisbane and referrals can be made through a GP, to contact her rooms for further information please call 07 3360 7100. 
 

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For urgent assessment at any stage of your pregnancy, please present to your nearest emergency centre or Mater Mothers’ 24/7 Pregnancy Assessment Centre in South Brisbane.

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