Heart & Blood Condition

Expert reports about Heart & Blood Condition


INFORMATION FOR WOMEN WHO HAVE CORONARY HEART DISEASE DURING PREGNANCY OR BREASTFEEDING

 

What is coronary heart disease?

Also known as coronary artery disease (CAD), coronary heart disease (CHD) is a condition in which one or more arteries supplying the myocardium (the muscular layer of the heart) is unable to deliver enough blood and oxygen. This can happen due to an artery gradually becoming blocked due to atherosclerosis (the formation of plaques in the lining of the artery) resulting in the artery narrowing and the wall of the artery hardening; such changes typically have begun long before pregnancy, but changes in cardiovascular physiology associated with pregnancy can make it worse, such that previously symptomless atherosclerosis now becomes symptomatic, or less severe CHD now becomes worse. CHD can also develop during pregnancy, resulting from what’s called spontaneous coronary artery dissection (a major artery supplying the heart tears within a short period of time), which often can be followed by atherosclerosis. In either case, a pregnant woman can develop a serious heart condition, ranging in severity from an inability of the heart to support normal physical activity such as walking up a flight of stairs, to a myocardial infarction (MI), a heart attack resulting from a portion of the heart muscle failing due to an inadequate oxygen supply.


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