During pregnancy, a woman’s body undergoes massive changes across all organ systems, including the heart. The volume of blood that a pregnant woman’s heart must pump can be up to 50% greater than for non-pregnant women. Since Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) is the most common heart rhythm disorder, it’s crucial for women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant to be vigilant for signs of any heart abnormalities.
Be Proactive, Not Reactive
If you have a history of suffering from AFib, the best time to discuss a pregnancy plan with your doctor is before you even start trying to get pregnant. For many women with optimal heart health, the symptoms caused by AFib during pregnancy can be mild, but women who have experienced heart rhythm irregularities in the past are more at risk for serious complications due to AFib. Your doctor can consult with you on a plan for medications, lifestyle changes, and how to recognize early warning signs in the event a problem does recur.
Monitor Your Heart Rate
With the increase in blood volume being pumped throughout the body, it’s natural for a pregnant woman’s heart rate to increase somewhat. Still, women with a history of AFib should take care to monitor heart rate levels frequently so immediate action can be taken if necessary. Since a woman’s heart has to work overtime during pregnancy, extra precautions need to be taken to ensure that the heart rate stays at a moderate level.
Watch for Signs of Blood Clots
People who have atrial fibrillation have a higher risk of developing blood clots, which is why many patients already take blood-thinning medications. After becoming pregnant, some of these medications may no longer be recommended, meaning you may need to switch to a different blood-thinner or stay off of them until after delivery. Knowing the symptoms of blood clots, like swelling in the legs or uncomfortable chest pain, is crucial for anyone suffering from AFib.
Adopt Lifestyle Changes
The tips for how to lead a heart-healthy lifestyle while pregnant are similar to healthy guidelines for all pregnant women. Proper nutrition is vital, so minimize the amount of saturated fat and cholesterol you consume and eat copious amounts of fruits and vegetables. Both smoking and alcohol use should be avoided completely, and make sure you are staying active by sticking with a routine of moderate exercise.
If you’re pregnant or trying to become pregnant, AFib can be a controllable situation as long as it is monitored and you work to keep your heart healthy. If your primary care physician recommends that you speak to a cardiologist or electrophysiologist, or if you have questions about how AFib can affect your pregnancy, schedule a consultation with Dr. Dilip Mathew today. Dr. Mathew has several convenient locations in the Sarasota, Venice, and Tampa Bay area, and also services surrounding cities including Bradenton, Port Charlotte, and Sebring.