By Sola Ogundipe
WOMEN of reproductive age that have heart disorders have been counselled to obtain proper medical advice before getting pregnant in order to minimise adverse outcomes.
Giving the warning during an open forum in Lagos, Dr Tosin Majekodunmi, a Consultant Cardiologist, noted that women with weak hearts often have complications in pregnancy and may even be advised not to get pregnant.
Majekodunmi, who is the Medical Director and Chief of Cardiology, Euracare Multi Specialist Hospital, Lagos, said although most women with heart problems can have a successful pregnancy, the outcome often requires careful planning and management.
“Pregnancy carries some risk for women even without heart disease; however there are increased risks to both the mother and the foetus in the woman with congenital heart disease. Such women may have adverse outcomes that could lead to disability or death,” he cautioned.\
Further he said: “Normally, the cardiac output (load and stress) on the heart doubles during pregnancy, so if a woman has a heart that is just working on the edge of what it can cope with when not pregnant, when she is now pregnant, the cardiac output tries to double and when it she is in labour and the cardiac output exceeds what the heart can cope with, the heart is bound to fail and she may suffer a cardiovascular collapse.”
Giving a rundown of the relationship between the heart and the reproductive system, Majekodunmi explained that studies in Canada show that a large percentage of maternal deaths in pregnancy are often heart related.
“A large proportion of women have their hearts compromised with conditions such as chronic hypertension, or problem with the valves that control blood pumping out of the heart, among others.
He said women with a history of miscarriages early in pregnancy may be at increased risk for heart disease. “Such women are not advised to get pregnant until the problem(s) associated with their heart is assessed and something is done to fix it and reduce the risk.”
Findings reveal that there’s a direct link between certain complications of pregnancy and cardiovascular problems that occur later in life.
Clinical evidence indicates there is an increased prevalence of cardiovascular disease in women of childbearing age, with potential to adversely affect maternal and fetal health, especially in the presence of underlying heart conditions.
Majekodunmi noted that conversations keep going on around cost of healthcare all over the world and not all treatments are available to everyone based on cost.