Women in South Texas are among those with elevated underlying risk factors that make them more prone to having life-threatening heart conditions when pregnant.
“The number one risk that I would look at is whether they have a history of congenital heart disease, if they have any kind of heart deformities they were born with,” said Dr. Ildiko Agoston, a cardiologist at University Health.
“We also have a big diabetic population here in the South, and that contributes to cardiovascular complications during pregnancy,” Dr. Agoston said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. has the highest maternal mortality rate for developed countries in the world. Texas ranks sixth in the U.S. for the number of maternal deaths.
The National Institutes of Health reports cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in pregnant women and women who have just given birth.
“Once you become pregnant, you need to listen to your body,” Dr. Agoston said.
Women planning to become pregnant need to know their:
- Blood pressure
- Cholesterol levels
- Blood sugar
- Family history
Any of those could mean a higher risk of mortality during or right after pregnancy, so your medical provider may need to keep a closer watch over you.
“Sometimes you may need a specialized OB/GYN doctor who’s called a maternal fetal medicine doctor that may refer you to a cardiologist during your pregnancy,” Dr. Agoston said.
Pregnancy and Childbirth at University Health
Learn more about University Health's pregnancy and childbirth services, including high-risk pregnancy care.