Health Policy

Pregnancy in distress: Know the symptoms that could lead to maternal mortality

New recommendations for women with heart disease aim to tackle leading cause of maternal deaths


By Alexandra Becker | May 24, 2019

In a continuing effort to address high rates of maternal mortality in the United States, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists (ACOG) recently released a Practice Bulletin addressing the detection and treatment of heart disease during pregnancy and in the postpartum period. The alert, a key initiative of Lisa Hollier, M.D., past president of ACOG and chief medical officer of Texas Children’s Health Plan, is a timely and necessary resource for clinicians, including OB-GYN physicians and cardiologists.

The document provides guidance on common cardiovascular disorders that can kill women during and after pregnancy. Here’s a quick visual guide for patients and families about symptoms that should not be ignored.

The bulletin includes recommendations to achieve appropriate levels of maternal care and specialty cardiac care for women most at risk. In response to that guidance, Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women and Texas Children’s Heart Center are working to establish a Pregnancy Heart Team.

“We are among the few institutions in the country that already have the facilities and the personnel in place to identify and prioritize care for these women,” Hollier said. “The stakes are high and they require well-coordinated, multi-disciplinary teamwork.”




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