Pregnancy and Cardiology
Pregnancy And Heart Disease
Pregnancy brings with it myriad changes to a woman's body, some of those changes become obvious over time - like a protruding belly and an ample bust - and some are not so obvious to the naked eye. An example of the kind of changes you can't see are those that occur to the heart and blood vessels that add stress to the body and additional workload to the heart. Increased blood volume and cardiac output (the amount of blood the heart pumps out each minute) as well as an increased heart rate and decrease in blood pressure due to hormonal changes, are normal changes that occur during pregnancy. All of these changes ensure the baby has enough oxygen and nutrients. While they benefit baby, they can leave mom feeling over-tired, short of breath and light-headed during pregnancy.
A woman with heart disease or a heart condition will likely need to take extra care and precautions both before and during pregnancy. Some heart conditions can create complications during a pregnancy and still other conditions may not even be noted until pregnancy. If a woman has a heart condition or heart disease, she should see a cardiologist before she starts to plan a pregnancy. A cardiologist is a physician who practices the sub-specialty within internal medicine called cardiology.
What Is Cardiology?
Cardiology is a Greek word that combines the words kardia, meaning heart, with logia, which means knowing or logic. The implication is knowing the inner self or the heart. This medical specialty deals with disorders of the heart and includes diagnosis and treatment of congenital heart defects, coronary artery disease, heart failure, valvular heart disease and electrophysiology. Cardiologists provide health care to patients in order to prevent, diagnose and treat diseases and conditions of the heart, cardiovascular system and the arteries. Since there are so many different types of diseases and procedures, a cardiologist may choose to specialize in a particular area. A glimpse into a cardiology journal can give a person an idea of the wide variety of specialties that lie within cardiology. A cardiologist usually has a private practice and also works out of a general or community hospital.
Cardiologists are not surgeons. The specialists who do heart surgery are called cardio-thoracic surgeons. They do a surgery residency as opposed to the internal medicine residency required for cardiology. To become a cardiologist, a physician begins in internal medicine, including four years of med school and another three years of residency. After that, the prospective cardiologist chooses a fellowship and, depending upon the type of fellowship the doctor chooses, he or she will complete two or three more years of a cardiology fellowship.
History of Cardiology
The science of cardiology has evolved over the centuries, but the most significant advances have come in the last two hundred years, with understanding increasing continuously. However, looking way back, it is possible to read the findings William Henry made concerning circulation in 1628. A method of measuring blood pressure was developed in 1733 by Stephen Hales. This helped doctors of that age better evaluate how hard a person's heart worked. In 1816, Rene T.H. Laennec, a French doctor, invented the stethoscope. The first open heart surgery took place in 1952 and the first whole heart transplant was done in 1967. Then, in 1982, the first permanent artificial heart was implanted into a human being. This "modern" history of cardiology is predated by bloodletting, which was used as a medical application from around 200CE and was practiced will into the 20th Century. This method of medicine was used to heal everything from tumors to tonsillitis all of which was believed to have been caused by an imbalance in the body that could be stabilized by releasing blood. We've come a long way.
Cardiology And Pregnancy
A woman with a heart condition should speak with a cardiologist before planning a pregnancy in order to have her health evaluated and to have any diagnostic tests, such as an EKG, that may be needed to evaluate the heart function and severity of the condition. Once the cardiologist is able to review the results, he or she can discuss the safety of a pregnancy based upon the woman's state of health. Potential risks, complications, and fetal risks are all discussed as well as the possible need for medications before conception. Most women with a heart condition can safely become pregnant, carry the pregnancy to term and deliver their babies without complications as long as they are under proper medical care.