#59 Heart Symptoms in Pregnancy

Pregnancy has many heart symptom changes which are common and benign, but they can be very frightening because they are similar to changes which are not benign when you are not pregnant.

Part of pregnancy-related normal shortness of breath is having your diaphragm raised by your baby and enlarging uterus. During pregnancy, normal breathing is changed so that you use a different part of your lungs to breath. This decreases the reserve volume of your lungs. When you are pregnant, for example, you will probably not be able to sigh. Sighing uses your reserve lung volume, the part of your lungs you use when you stretch and take in a deep breath. When you are pregnant, this reserve lung capacity is used for normal breathing.

Pregnancy can cause a fast heart rate (tachycardia) or an irregular heart rate (palpitations). You will most likely feel a fast heartbeat in your head or your neck. Heart palpitations, or an irregular heartbeat, are most often felt in your chest.

A slow heartbeat is not likely to be very symptomatic and may manifest itself in confusing ways like fainting or feeling weak. The biggest problem that you might have with an irregular heartbeat or a heartbeat which is too slow or too fast would be shortness of breath. The feeling of shortness of breath can be normal during pregnancy, so how do you know whether your shortness of breath is normal? If you are feeling short of breath and have questions about it, you should call your doctor right away. I believe that you should call the doctor as soon as you experience any of these symptoms or if you have a mother, father, brother, or sister with these conditions. These conditions can be hereditary.

Harm to the growing baby is the function of the speed of the heart rate, the frequency of the abnormality, and the form of the palpitations based on EKG findings and ultrasound results. There’s also the option of wearing a Holter monitor which would record the heartbeat and the nerve signals for 24 or 48 hours.

Postpartum cardiomyopathy is a disorder of the muscles of the heart. Disease of the coronary arteries is not usually involved, so stenting or coronary artery bypass is usually not only not recommended, but also most often contra-indicated. In most cases of postpartum cardiomyopathy, surgery would add insult to injury.

Cardiomyopathy is typically experienced postpartum. More recently there had been an increasing number of women diagnosed with cardiomyopathy during pregnancy, particularly in the last 4 to 6 weeks before delivery. The most common symptom would be shortness of breath. After delivery, you should not experience shortness of breath. If you do or if you notice difficulties going up and down the steps, you need to call your doctor right away. If you cannot get in to see your doctor right away, call your labor and delivery floor or go to the emergency room.

Shortness of breath in pregnancy may be benign, but I would suggest it is well worth a call to your doctor to have it checked out.