Home Articles Monitoring Maternal Cardiovascular Health Amid COVID-19

Monitoring Maternal Cardiovascular Health Amid COVID-19

Pregnancy can be a beautiful and fulfilling experience – but it can also be complex and stressful, particularly amid a global pandemic like COVID-19. As an expectant mother, you may be feeling increased anxiety over your upcoming birth and whether you will be allowed to have your partner or other loved ones in the room with you when you deliver.

Given the scale of the virus, you may be feeling overwhelmed at the prospect of entering a hospital for your doctor’s appointments. You may be feeling especially worried about your health and the health of your baby.

These concerns are all valid. While it’s important not to panic, it is vital to know the effects of COVID-19 and how the virus could potentially increase your risk for certain medical conditions during your pregnancy. In informing yourself of these potential outcomes, as well as how to protect yourself from them, you’ll ensure that you carry out the rest of your pregnancy as well-aware and well-equipped as possible.

One of the most serious health risks that researchers and experts are warning the public about is the adverse impact COVID-19 can have on cardiovascular health. There is emerging research-based evidence indicating that COVID-19 is sometimes associated with severe cardiovascular issues, including heart failure and cardiac arrests. In fact, a research team in Italy reported a 58% spike in the number of cardiac arrests between February 21 and March 31, 2020. Medical experts predict a similar increase in the United States.

“We know the virus causes systemic inflammation and an enhanced immune — ‘cytokine’ — response,” said Dr. Guy Mintz, Director of Cardiovascular Health at the Sandra Atlas Bass Heart Hospital in New York. “This can lead to inflammation of the heart, called myocarditis, or it can produce micro-thrombi (micro-clots) in the arteries of the heart. That leads to cardiac damage and arrhythmias, leading to cardiac arrest and death.”

With this in mind, as an expectant mother living in a world with COVID-19, maternal cardiac arrest needs to be on your radar. Pregnant women are immunocompromised, meaning you as an expectant mother are more susceptible to complications of respiratory infections like COVID-19. This is not to say you should live in constant fear or stress; rather, it is simply to highlight how vital it is to implement recommended practices, including good hand hygiene and social distancing. You can also check out Dr. Tosin Goje of Cleveland Clinic’s tips for additional guidance on maintaining a healthy pregnancy during COVID-19.

It’s especially important to closely monitor your cardiovascular health if you have existing cardiovascular conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or heart disease, which is already the leading cause of death during pregnancy.

COVID-19 adds an extra layer of concern, as does pregnancy; when a woman is pregnant, there are limitations on medication management and invasive procedures that can be performed to mitigate the risks of these conditions. This is another reason why diligent compliance with healthcare workers’ recommendations is especially important for expecting mothers during the pandemic. 

Although it may feel daunting and scary at times, the best thing you can do for your health and the health of your baby is to educate yourself on potential health risks and to follow the safety practices recommended by healthcare professionals.