, Volume 12, Issue 3, pp 250-256
Date: 16 Mar 2010

Cardiac Disease in Pregnancy: Value of Echocardiography

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Abstract

Cardiovascular disease in women during pregnancy poses particular challenges. It continues to be a leading cause of maternal mortality and contributes to significant morbidity. Echocardiography is essential in characterizing the extent and effects of heart disease prior to, during, and after pregnancy. By understanding the physiologic adaptation in pregnancy with increases in heart rate, blood volume, and cardiac output, and decrease in vascular resistance, one can anticipate and recognize the effects of these changes on various cardiac lesions. Cardiomyopathy, severe, obstructive valvular disease, aortic dilation due to Marfan’s disease, and cyanotic congenital heart disease are poorly tolerated in pregnancy. These disorders can be readily distinguished from normal structural changes of pregnancy and their severity assessed by echocardiography. Cardiovascular disease in women of reproductive age requires careful, multidisciplinary management by obstetric and medical teams ideally beginning preconception and continuing through the postpartum period.