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Mechanical Valves in Pregnancy Increases Risk

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Mechanical heart valves increase the risks during as well as after pregnancy, confirm researchers.

Data from the registry of Pregnancy and Cardiac Disease (ROPAC) was presented at an ESC Congress Hot Line session and found 1.4 percent of pregnant women with a mechanical heart valve died. And 20 percent suffered a miscarriage.

The ROPAC, a global registry, follows pregnant women with a variety of structural heart diseases. Since January 2008, more than 3,000 pregnant women with structural heart disease have been enrolled in the registry.

The number one killer of women continues to be cardiac disease and causes one in three deaths, annually.

Certain haemodynamic (blood flow) changes occur during pregnancy, including an increase in cardiac output, stroke volume and also heart rate. Normal, healthy hearts are able to adapt to such changes, but a structural abnormal heart is commonly less able to deal with such changes and leads to an increase in maternal and fetal death.

“Pregnancy can be a hazardous situation for women with a mechanical valve prosthesis. Women who need a valve replacement should be told about the pregnancy associated risks, particularly when it is time to choose the type of valve,” said professor Roos-Hesselink in a statement.

The study can be read in its entirety on the American Heart Association (AHA) Website.