The substantial cardiovascular adaptation that occurs during normal pregnancy may precipitate the first presentation of heart disease. A multidisciplinary approach comprising GPs, obstetricians, cardiologists, cardiac anaesthetists and neonatologists is required for the optimal management of pregnancy in women with heart disease.
- Pregnancy is associated with major physiological changes resulting in an augmentation of cardiac output of 40 to 50% by the end of the second trimester.
- Women with pre-existing heart disease who are unable to compensate for increased cardiac demand may present with an exacerbation of their heart disease during pregnancy.
- Valvular heart disease, arrhythmias and congenital heart disease are the major cardiac abnormalities encountered during pregnancy in antenatal clinics.
- GPs caring for women peripartum are often the first to document a murmur or arrhythmia and determine the need for further investigation.
- Optimal management of pregnancy in women with heart disease can be achieved in antenatal clinics utilising a multidisciplinary team.