Young women with healthy hearts may be unaware they face elevated risks of developing heart disorders after becoming pregnant. Even worse, the issue may go undetected for years after giving birth because symptoms may mimic those of pregnancy.
Dr. Rina Mauricio, who specializes in women’s cardiovascular health, says expectant mothers – even the younger ones – need to be aware that various heart issues can develop during pregnancy. This can range from preeclampsia to more severe conditions such as postpartum cardiomyopathy (PPCM), an uncommon form of heart failure that occurs in the final stages of pregnancy or months after giving birth. PPCM is rarer in the US than some other countries but still appears to be increasing over time, according to the American Heart Association.
Dr. Mauricio says diagnosing heart conditions quickly is critical. She adds that many cases go untreated for years because symptoms such as shortness of breath and feet swelling are common during pregnancy.
Dr. Mauricio established the Complex Postpartum Care Clinic at UT Southwestern to ensure more young mothers are diagnosed earlier. However, because not every hospital offers such services, patients should be proactive about seeing a cardiologist during and after pregnancy.