Cardiac disease in pregnancy and pulmonary hypertension

Jump to navigation Jump to search

Cardiac disease in pregnancy Microchapters




Epidemiology and Demographics

Risk Factors


History and Symptoms

Physical Examination


Exercise Testing

Radiation Exposure

Chest X Ray





Pulmonary artery catheterization
Cardiac catheterization
Cardiac Ablation


Cardiovascular Drugs in Pregnancy

Labor and delivery

Resuscitation in Late Pregnancy

Contraindications to pregnancy

Special Scenarios:

I. Pre-existing Cardiac Disease:
Congenital Heart Disease
Repaired Congenital Heart Disease
Pulmonary Hypertension
Rheumatic Heart Disease
Connective Tissue Disorders
II. Valvular Heart Disease:
Mitral Stenosis
Mitral Regurgitation
Aortic Insufficiency
Aortic Stenosis
Mechanical Prosthetic Valves
Tissue Prosthetic Valves
III. Cardiomyopathy:
Dilated Cardiomyopathy
Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy
Peripartum Cardiomyopathy
IV. Cardiac diseases that may develop During Pregnancy:
Acute Myocardial Infarction

Cardiac disease in pregnancy and pulmonary hypertension On the Web

Most recent articles

Most cited articles

Review articles

CME Programs

Powerpoint slides


American Roentgen Ray Society Images of Cardiac disease in pregnancy and pulmonary hypertension

All Images
Echo & Ultrasound
CT Images

Ongoing Trials at Clinical

US National Guidelines Clearinghouse

NICE Guidance

FDA on Cardiac disease in pregnancy and pulmonary hypertension

CDC on Cardiac disease in pregnancy and pulmonary hypertension

Cardiac disease in pregnancy and pulmonary hypertension in the news

Blogs on Cardiac disease in pregnancy and pulmonary hypertension

Directions to Hospitals Treating Cardiac disease in pregnancy

Risk calculators and risk factors for Cardiac disease in pregnancy and pulmonary hypertension

Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]; Associate Editor(s)-In-Chief: Anjan K. Chakrabarti, M.D. [2]

Synonyms and Keywords: pulmonary artery hypertension, PAH


Pulmonary hypertension, defined as mean pulmonary artery pressure of greater than 25 mmHg at rest or 30 mmHg with exercise, carries a higher mortality when it is associated with pregnancy. It carries a significant risk to mother and child during pregnancy; as a result, mothers require careful monitoring.[1]

Pulmonary Hypertension

Physiologic Considerations in Pregnancy

As reviewed in Physiologic Changes Associated with Pregnancy, maternal blood volume increases throughout pregnancy until between 28 and 34 weeks of gestation, and circulating blood volume is increased to between 30% and 50% above the non-pregnant state. Red blood cell mass increases to approximately 25% above the non-pregnant state. Cardiac output increases through various mechanisms, and hypercoagulability is noted in the postpartum state due to relative resistance to activated protein C, reduced serum levels of protein S and increased levels of factors I, II V, VII, VIII, X and XII.[2]

All of these changes can be particularly deleterious in patients with PAH. It can be very harmful if a thrombus forms or embolizes to an already compromised pulmonary circulation. Such hematological changes present a significant risk, and mortality is between 30% and 50% for pregnant women with idiopathic PAH.[3]

Specific Issues with PAH and Pregnancy

Outcomes and Recommendations

In a review of PAH and pregnancy outcomes between 1978 and 1996, Weiss and colleagues[3] found a maternal mortality rate of 30% in idiopathic PAH, 36% in Eisenmenger’s syndrome and 56% in pulmonary hypertension secondary to a variety of other conditions including liver disease, connective tissue disease, chronic thromboembolic events and ingestion of weight loss agents. Of note, the highest mortality was in the first month after delivery.

As a result, many authors recommend pregnancy should be avoided in the setting of maternal PAH.[5]. See guidelines below.

2008 ACC/AHA Guidelines for the Management of Adults With Congenital Heart Disease (DO NOT EDIT)[6]

Reproduction - Eisenmenger's Syndrome (DO NOT EDIT)[6]

Class I
"1. Women with severe CHD-PAH, especially those with Eisenmenger physiology, and their partners should be counseled about the absolute avoidance of pregnancy in view of the high risk of maternal death, and they should be educated regarding safe and appropriate methods of contraception. (Level of Evidence: B)"
"2. Women with CHD-PAH who become pregnant should:"
"a. Receive individualized counseling from cardiovascular and obstetric caregivers collaborating in care and with expertise in management of CHD-PAH. (Level of Evidence: C)"
"b. Undergo the earliest possible pregnancy termination after such counseling. (Level of Evidence: C)"
"3. Surgical sterilization carries some operative risk for women with CHD-PAH but is a safer option than pregnancy. In view of advances in minimally invasive techniques, the risks and benefits of sterilization modalities should be discussed with an obstetrician experienced in management of high-risk patients, as well as with a cardiac anesthesiologist. (Level of Evidence: C)"
Class III
"1. Pregnancy in women with CHD-PAH, especially those with Eisenmenger physiology, is not recommended and should be absolutely avoided in view of the high risk of maternal mortality. (Level of Evidence: B)"
"2. The use of single-barrier contraception alone in women with CHD-PAH is not recommended owing to the frequency of failure. (Level of Evidence: C)"
"3. Estrogen-containing contraceptives should be avoided.(Level of Evidence: C)"
Class IIb
"1. Pregnancy termination in the last 2 trimesters of pregnancy poses a high risk to the mother. It may be reasonable, however, after the risks of termination are balanced against the risks of continuation of the pregnancy.(Level of Evidence: C)"

Management of Patients with PAH During Pregnancy

A multidisciplinary team should be involved in management, and specific therapeutic options include:

  • Oxygen to maintain maternal PaO2 above 70 mmHg
  • Anticoagulation, often with the assistance of a hematologist. The agent of choice is a low-molecular-weight heparin with serial measurement of anti-factor Xa levels.[8]
  • Pulmonary vasoactive agents:
  1. Endothelin receptor antagonists are contraindicated during pregnancy because of risks of teratogenicity. Alternative agents include:
  2. Sildenafil[9]
  3. Intravenous Epoprostenol (Prostacyclin)[10]
  4. In the acute situation, inhaled Nitric oxide[11]
  • Atrial septostomy[12]

Guideline Resources

ACC/AHA 2008 Guidelines for the Management of Adults With Congenital Heart Disease[13]


  1. Madden BP (2009). "Pulmonary hypertension and pregnancy". Int J Obstet Anesth. 18 (2): 156–64. doi:10.1016/j.ijoa.2008.10.006. PMID 19223169.
  2. PECHET L, ALEXANDER B (1961). "Increased clotting factors in pregnacy". N Engl J Med. 265: 1093–7. doi:10.1056/NEJM196111302652205. PMID 14484810.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Weiss BM, Zemp L, Seifert B, Hess OM (1998). "Outcome of pulmonary vascular disease in pregnancy: a systematic overview from 1978 through 1996". J Am Coll Cardiol. 31 (7): 1650–7. PMID 9626847.
  4. Jaigobin C, Silver FL (2000). "Stroke and pregnancy". Stroke. 31 (12): 2948–51. PMID 11108754.
  5. Weiss BM, Hess OM (2000). "Pulmonary vascular disease and pregnancy: current controversies, management strategies, and perspectives". Eur Heart J. 21 (2): 104–15. doi:10.1053/euhj.1999.1701. PMID 10637084.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Warnes CA, Williams RG, Bashore TM, Child JS, Connolly HM, Dearani JA; et al. (2008). "ACC/AHA 2008 guidelines for the management of adults with congenital heart disease: a report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines (Writing Committee to Develop Guidelines on the Management of Adults With Congenital Heart Disease). Developed in Collaboration With the American Society of Echocardiography, Heart Rhythm Society, International Society for Adult Congenital Heart Disease, Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions, and Society of Thoracic Surgeons". J Am Coll Cardiol. 52 (23): e1–121. doi:10.1016/j.jacc.2008.10.001. PMID 19038677.
  7. Al-Mobeireek AF, Almutawa J, Alsatli RA (2003). "The nineteenth pregnancy in a patient with cor pulmonale and severe pulmonary hypertension: a management challenge". Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 82 (7): 676–8. PMID 12790853.
  8. Bates SM, Greer IA, Hirsh J, Ginsberg JS (2004). "Use of antithrombotic agents during pregnancy: the Seventh ACCP Conference on Antithrombotic and Thrombolytic Therapy". Chest. 126 (3 Suppl): 627S–644S. doi:10.1378/chest.126.3_suppl.627S. PMID 15383488.
  9. Lacassie HJ, Germain AM, Valdés G, Fernández MS, Allamand F, López H (2004). "Management of Eisenmenger syndrome in pregnancy with sildenafil and L-arginine". Obstet Gynecol. 103 (5 Pt 2): 1118–20. doi:10.1097/01.AOG.0000125148.82698.65. PMID 15121629.
  10. Easterling TR, Ralph DD, Schmucker BC (1999). "Pulmonary hypertension in pregnancy: treatment with pulmonary vasodilators". Obstet Gynecol. 93 (4): 494–8. PMID 10214821.
  11. Lam GK, Stafford RE, Thorp J, Moise KJ, Cairns BA (2001). "Inhaled nitric oxide for primary pulmonary hypertension in pregnancy". Obstet Gynecol. 98 (5 Pt 2): 895–8. PMID 11704193.
  12. Nihill MR, O'Laughlin MP, Mullins CE (1991). "Effects of atrial septostomy in patients with terminal cor pulmonale due to pulmonary vascular disease". Cathet Cardiovasc Diagn. 24 (3): 166–72. PMID 1722434.
  13. Warnes CA, Williams RG, Bashore TM, Child JS, Connolly HM, Dearani JA; et al. (2008). "ACC/AHA 2008 Guidelines for the Management of Adults with Congenital Heart Disease: a report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines (writing committee to develop guidelines on the management of adults with congenital heart disease)". Circulation. 118 (23): e714–833. doi:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.108.190690. PMID 18997169.

Template:WH Template:WS Cardiology