Can Women with Heart Disease Have Babies?

Q: My wife has atrial septal defect. Can she have a baby? Will pregnancy worsen her condition or even threaten her life?

A: In recent years, with the rapid development in the field of cardiology, the majority of women suffering from heart disease give birth to their children successfully. These expectant mothers with heart disease account for about 1% of all pregnant women, and their main cause is rheumatic heart disease. Compared with ordinary pregnant women, they are at high risk. Their fragile heart has an impact on the fetus. They may give birth to their baby too early and the fetal mortality is higher.

At the same time, heart disease is also one of the major causes of maternal mortality, second only to hypertension, bleeding and infection. Therefore, pregnancy combined with heart disease is a big challenge for doctors in cardiology and in obstetrics and gynecology.

If a woman has mitral valve atresia, aortic valve atresia, tetralogy of Fallot or pulmonary stenosis, her life will be put at danger in pregnancy. She must be treated by surgery in advance. Other types of heart disease, such as atrial septal defect, mild mitral insufficiency, and mitral valve prolapse, are not as dangerous as the former ones. But women still should be very careful if they are pregnant.

The greatest risk of pregnancy for a woman with heart disease is irreversible heart failure, which may lead to the death of the mother, or the death of the unborn baby for the sake of its mother’s life, resulting in overwhelming pain for the whole family. Pregnant women with heart disease may develop other complications, including blood clots, bleeding, miscarriage, stillbirths, and fetal anomaly (primarily associated with the use of anticoagulants). Additionally, the use of antibiotics is necessary in this situation, which is to avoid endometritis.

Heart disease and pregnancy can affect each other mutually. If heart disease is diagnosed before pregnancy, appropriate treatment must be adopted to avoid further risk. Every pregnant woman with heart disease must be informed in detail about the possible risk. Only good cooperation with the cardiologists can enable the mother to have the delivery successfully.


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* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.