Women with heart defects lack info on pregnancy safety
In some cases, they may be getting inappropriate advice from health-care workers
Nov 20, 2006
A study by Adrienne Kovacs, a psychologist in the cardiology division at the University Health Network in Toronto, shows that women with congenital heart disease are not knowledgeable about cardiac risks during pregnancy and in some cases are being inappropriately advised to avoid pregnancy when there is no need to, or to go ahead with pregnancy when they should not.
"We found that there was a significant mismatch for many women between information that they'd been given and what we now know of current recommendations for pregnancy among women with congenital heart disease," Kovacs says.
The study of 123 women with congenital heart disease showed 25 per cent reported having been told by a health-care worker to avoid pregnancy. Following a review of medical records, a cardiologist determined that only 15 per cent should have been advised to avoid pregnancy.
Co-author Dr. Candice Silversides, a staff cardiologist at the Toronto General Hospital, says a woman's risk for cardiac complications during pregnancy depends on what type of heart defect she has.
"There's very low-risk lesions, where it's essentially minimal risk to the mother or the fetus, and there's high-risk lesions, where the maternal mortality could be as high as 50 per cent."
She says that thanks to improved treatments and technologies, more women with congenital heart disease are now living well into adulthood, and therefore into their reproductive years. The risks associated with pregnancy and heart defects have therefore only recently been studied.
With files from The Medical Post.