Cardiac Arrest and Pregnancy

Nobody wants to think about anything tragic happening during a pregnancy, labor or delivery. When a pregnancy occurs, the idea is to be happy and assured that all will go well and the mother will deliver a healthy, normal baby without any complications. In a perfect world, that would be the case. However, this is not a perfect world and sadly things do go wrong during birth.

Cardiac Arrest in the Labor Room

A cardiac arrest in pregnancy is a situation that is feared among health professionals in the labor and delivery suite of a hospital. Commonly, the woman having the trauma is a young and healthy person without previous medical problems or cardiac diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol or obesity. All of these cardiac diseases can predispose a woman to serious complications during pregnancy, labor and delivery. Certain congenital heart defects can run in families and pregnant women with some of these cardiac issues can have a higher risk of having problems during pregnancy as well as a baby with a congenital heart defect. Women with any of these cardiac problems are usually well monitored by their doctors and precautions are in place in the event of an emergency.

Cardiac Output In Pregnancy

A woman's heart has to work very hard during pregnancy because as her baby is growing, she has to pump more blood to the uterus, ensuring the baby is getting sufficient nutrients through the placenta. One fifth of her blood supply is going to the uterus by the end of the pregnancy. The amount of blood pumped by the heart in pregnancy (cardiac output) increases by 30 to 50 percent. As cardiac output in pregnancy increases, the heart rate or frequency of the cardiac cycle speeds up from about 70 beats per minute during pre-pregnancy to 80 to 90 beats per minute. During labor, there is another 10 percent increase in cardiac output. But cardiac output quickly returns to normal after the birth of the baby and within six weeks everything is as it was prior to pregnancy.

Take Good Care of Your Heart

The cardiac muscle, which we fondly refer to as the heart, constantly contracts and relaxes and must have a constant supply of oxygen and nutrients to function properly. One of the best ways to ensure the heart has what it needs to function well is to be sure a heart-healthy diet is in place. A good cardiac diet consists of lean meats and fish, fresh vegetables and fruits, low fat intake, and dairy. Cardiac anatomy consists of veins and blood vessels, so a diet that is high in saturated fats and artery clogging foods is a direct cause of cardiac diseases and problems during pregnancy, labor and delivery. Establishing a healthy pattern of exercise and heart-healthy eating benefits both mother and baby during pregnancy and afterward when breastfeeding.

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