Cardiovascular Conditions During Pregnancy

Due to increased stress the heart endures during pregnancy, cardiovascular disorders can develop.


  • High blood pressure (hypertension) can put the mother and baby at risk during pregnancy, delivery and after the baby is born. There are many risk factors that can increase your risk of developing hypertension during pregnancy that includes history of hypertension, first pregnancy, women older than 35, Black women, obesity and multiple pregnancies. Hypertensions can cause a number of cardiovascular complications for the mother that can include:
    • Preeclampsia is characterized by high blood pressure and can damage other organ systems, like the kidneys and liver. Symptoms usually begin after 20 weeks of pregnancy in women with normal blood pressure. Symptoms include:
      • Severe headaches
      • Change in vision (temporary loss, blurred, light sensitivity)
      • Nausea or vomiting
      • Decreased urine output
      • Shortness of breath
    • Eclampsia is a life-threatening complication to develop seizures and coma. Preeclampsia can often progress severe preeclampsia and ultimately eclampsia.
    • Stroke occurs when there is an interrupted or reduced blood supply to the brain. Preeclampsia and eclampsia are both risk factors for developing a stroke during delivery or after.


Heart Failure 

  • Peripartum Cardiomyopathy, also known as postpartum cardiomyopathy, is a form of heart failure that happens during the last month of pregnancy or 5 months after delivery. Within this condition the heart chambers grow bigger and the heart muscles weaken which leads to less blood flow. The heart is not able to deliver the body’s demands for oxygen in the blood and starts to affect other organs. Symptoms include:
  • Fatigue
  • Palpitations
  • Increased urination at night
  • Swollen ankles
  • Swollen neck veins
  • Low blood pressure, or sudden drop when standing up
  • For more information on peripartum cardiomyopathy visit the American Heart Association website, Peripartum Cardiomyopathy.


  • A condition in which the heart beats irregularly or at an abnormal rhythm. It is the most common cardiac disorder during pregnancy and can be an indicator of an unknown heart condition.