Pregnancy and Heart Disease

Pregnancy can be a challenge where health is concerned. There are so many possibilities for complications.

Pregnancy puts stress on your body, and most importantly your heart. In fact, when you’re pregnant, your blood volume increases by approximately 40% to nourish your baby, this means that the heart pumps more blood and therefore your heart rate increases.


Pregnant women may develop this condition in the late stages of pregnancy. It is marked by high blood pressure in women who have not experienced high blood pressure before. If it is left untreated, pre-eclampsia can lead to eclampsia.


This is a rare and severe complication of pre-eclampsia. It is categorized by high blood pressure resulting in seizures during pregnancy and affects 0.5% of women with pre-eclampsia.

Symptoms of Pre-eclampsia

  • swelling in your face or hands
  • headaches
  • excessive weight gain
  • nausea and vomiting
  • vision problems
  • difficulty urinating

Symptoms of Eclampsia

  • seizures
  • loss of consciousness
  • agitation
  • headaches or muscle pain
  • upper right abdominal pain

Gestational Diabetes

This kind of diabetes develops during pregnancy and affects how your cells use sugar. If you develop gestational diabetes, and seek health care early, your doctor will monitor your blood sugar level as well as your baby’s health as well as show you how to manage your blood sugar level during pregnancy.

However, there can be complications that may affect the baby, putting them at an increased risk of having excessive birth weight, respiratory distress syndrome, low blood sugar and having type 2 diabetes later in life. It can also put the mother at risk for pre-eclampsia and post-pregnancy diabetes.

Apart from the conditions mentioned above, pregnancy can also worsen many existing heart disorders.  Women with the following diseases are advised against pregnancy.

  • Pulmonary Hypertension
  • Marfan Syndrome
  • Severe Aortic Stenosis
  • Severe Mitral Stenosis
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Heart failure


It’s safe to say that pregnancy can put a great deal of stress on your heart. If you have an existing heart condition or a significant family history of heart disorders and complicated pregnancies, discuss your risk with your doctor. Having this information during the planning stages will put you at ease, so you and your family can enjoy the experience.