There are several cardiovascular complications during pregnancy. Some of them are:

Gestational Hypertension and preeclampsia: Gestation hypertension is characterized by blood pressure of 140/90 mm of Hg or higher. A woman with gestational hypertension has no history of hypertension before or during pregnancy and there is no diagnosis of proteinuria (high protein in urine). The condition is also known as transient hypertension when the blood pressure, within 12 weeks after delivery, returns back to normal.

Preeclampsia involves high blood pressure of 140/90 mm of Hg along with proteinuria (300 mg or more protein in urine in 24 hours). The patients may experience headaches and epigastric pain.

Fetal to Maternal Hemorrhage: In normal cases, the placental layers prevent the direct contact of mother and fetal blood. The exchange of gases and nutrients occurs through the placenta. However, in some cases, there is a placental abruption. It results in the flow of fetal blood cells into the mother’s circulation. Loss of fetal blood till 30 ml has no significant effect on the health of the fetus. However, above this quantity may increase the risk of fetal death.

Heart Disease in pregnancy: Heart diseases during pregnancy significantly increase the risk of mortality. Data indicates almost 8% of the total maternal death is due to cardiomyopathy. This is due to the several physiological changes in the cardiovascular system during pregnancy. There is an almost fifty percent increase in cardiac output during pregnancy. Normal symptoms, that usually indicate a heart disease during pregnancy, are syncope, chest pain, nocturnal cough, progressive dyspnea, and hemoptysis.

Thromboembolic diseases: These diseases are one of the common reasons for death in pregnant women. The risk of thromboembolic disease is high within 6 weeks after the delivery. Women with diabetes, multiple pregnancies, and varicose veins are at increased risk for thromboembolic complications.

Anemia: Anemia is common during pregnancy. It is because of the increased volume of blood. The body requires more iron to increase the level of red blood cells. This will help in an adequate supply of oxygen to the fetus.

Thrombocytopenia: Pregnant women may have either idiopathic or inherited thrombocytopenia. The types of thrombocytopenia include alloimmune thrombocytopenia, gestational thrombocytopenia, thrombotic thrombocytopenia, hemolytic uremic syndrome, and immune thrombocytopenic purpura.

Cerebrovascular disease: Cerebrovascular stroke may also be a cause of maternal deaths. Pregnant women with gestational, chronic, and pre-eclamptic hypertension are at higher risk for developing stroke.


Some of the fetal cardiovascular complications include:

Intraventricular hemorrhage: The neonatal intracranial hemorrhage includes subarachnoid, subdural, periventricular-Intraventricular, and intracerebral hemorrhage. The reasons for hemorrhage include trauma, hypoxia, hypoxia-ischemic events, and coagulopathy.

Antenatal hemolytic disease: It is also known as erythroblastosis fetalis. In this condition, the red blood cells of the newborn break at a rapid rate.

Cephalohematoma: The condition may develop in the newborn during delivery or labor. In this condition, the blood is collected between the baby’s scalp and skull. Collection of blood is due to damaged blood vessels.

Fetal cardiac arrhythmia: In many cases, the exact cause of the abnormal heart rhythm of the infant is not known. However, causes, when known, include medication, electrolytic imbalance, inflammation, and inherited genetic conditions.


Newborn Cardiovascular Conditions


Leveno KJ, Alexander JM, Bloom SL, Casey BM, Dashe JS, Roberts SW, Sheffield JS. (2013). Williams Manual of Pregnancy Complications. (23rd ed.). The McGraw-Hill Companies.


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