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  1. #1
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    Dealing with heart issues when pregnant.

    Updated 12-29-17

    Hey, I know this is a little beyond my usual subject matter, but I saw a question about this on FB and I thought I would write a quick essay for anyone who might be in this situation because heaven knows I have experience!!!

    EVERYONE who experiences any heart related symptoms should obviously talk to a doctor, but this may help put your mind at ease.

    Heart palpitations and tachycardia - These are SUPER SCARY but super common during pregnancy, and 99% of the time are totally benign. Any time you are physically aware of your heartbeat, that's medically referred to as heart palpitations. You may feel that your heart is fluttering, skipping beats, that you can feel your heart beating throughout your entire body or hear your pulse in your ears, or your heart may race (this is called tachycardia). My heart has beat 200 times a minute for minutes at a time, and it is terrifying, esp. when pregnant. You may feel slightly dizzy or lightheaded while it happens or you may feel perfectly fine.

    Why it happens - your body makes a lot more blood than it normally has to sustain pregnancy, it beats a little faster and harder to pump that blood, and also makes high levels of hormones as well (another time women get heart palpitations is during menopause). All these things can contribute to palpitations.

    Some of us actually have a little bit of extra electrical conduit in our hearts that can conduct electricity backwards up our heart and cause tachycardia. This is called SVT (supraventricular tachycardia) and many of us walk around our entire lives with this and never even know. For whatever reason, pregnancy may trigger this misfiring to happen.

    What can you do to prevent it -

    You may find things that trigger your heart to act up. Lying down, especially lying on your left side as doctors often recommend that you do, may make you more aware of your heartbeat - everyone's heart skips regularly, but most of us just never notice it. Pregnancy seems to make your heartbeat easier to feel.

    Eating sugar, caffeine, anxiety, nicotine, alcohol, being very full, being overly warm, certain medications (even seemingly harmless things like B vitamins - maybe your prenatal??) and even changes in breathing patterns may trigger a palpitation or tachycardia. I've noticed that holding my breath and bending over when pregnant (or sadly when not pregnant too LOL) often triggers my tachycardia, usually in concert with caffeine, stress, or sugar.

    If you are experiencing tachycardia, DON'T PANIC. That only makes it worse. I know it is SO SCARY but I have had tachycardia (I have SVT) probably 50 times over the last 15 years and I haven't died yet. There are a couple of tricks you can try to try to get it to go away. Firstly, you can douse your face and neck in very cold water. This helps to slow down your heartbeat and when your heart slows down it makes it easier for the electrical signal to straighten out again. Another thing you can try is either attempting to go #2 or just bearing down like you are. This is called the Valsalva maneuver and is actually recommended by cardiologists. Even if these two things don't work right away, simply laying down and remaining calm WILL make it go away usually within a few minutes.

    OBVIOUSLY you need to go to your doctor and get checked out. But if you're home alone with your kids and having tachycardia, it's not like you can (nor should you) hop in the car and drive yourself to the emergency room. There are a few actual medical situations like thyroid, anemia, and preeclampsia that can cause these problems and so you should def. get checked out ASAP, even that same day if possible. If (after you've had it checked) it lasts longer than a few minutes, you should go to the hospital regardless, because they can give you medication that can stop it and it is hard on your body. And at any point if you faint, feel like you cannot breathe, are having chest pains or pressure or squeezing in your chest, get very dizzy or lightheaded (a little lightheadedness is normal), turn blue/gray (check your fingertips if you aren't sure), or break out in a cold sweat, DIAL 911 right away.

    But by far the most likely thing is that this is simply a temporary issue that was triggered by pregnancy and once you have your baby, it will go away again and never return.

    Heart murmurs and valve problems - Sometimes a doctor will notice a heart murmur, or a clicking sound that can indicate valve problems, during pregnancy. He/she may comment on it to you and may want you to have it checked by a cardiologist. DON'T PANIC.

    What are they - A murmur/click is just the heart making an unexpected noise. Remember, your heart is beating faster and you have more blood than you normally do. This may cause your heart to sound a bit different. It may be absolutely nothing at all and your doctor is just being very careful with your health (always a good sign in a doctor).

    Some of us have very, very tiny abnormalities with our hearts. These may be things that we were born with or that developed with age. They may be very small holes in our hearts or heart valves that don't quite close all the way. The additional blood flow of pregnancy simply made these very small problems more noticeable. The vast, vast majority of people with murmurs and clicks are perfectly healthy and will live to a ripe old age.

    Only a very, very small percentage of people actually have issues caused by murmurs or leaky valves. In practically all of these cases, there is a LOT of advance warning and other symptoms going on, like breathlessness, fainting, turning blue, severe fatigue...most people are aware since childhood of their serious murmurs. For others, their heart valves may have worn out over the course of time but that is normal and takes many years to get bad enough for action to be taken. (I have a mitral valve prolapse and a leaky aortal valve and was given a clean bill of health for a 5th pregnancy). If your doctor notices a heart murmur or click while you're pregnant, it is almost certainly NOTHING to be worried about. It was probably there to begin with and pregnancy just made it more easily noticed.

    What to do about it - You don't need to do anything about it. If your doctor advised you to go get it checked out, do so. Don't be scared about it, don't jump to the conclusion that you're going to die and leave your children motherless. These are very small, usually meaningless findings that will likely have no impact on your future health. They may completely disappear after you have the baby anyway.

    Eat right and exercise, that's the best thing that all of us can do for our hearts!!
    Last edited by atomic sagebrush; December 29th, 2017 at 06:02 PM.
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  2. #2
    Big Dreamer
    Jojogirl's Avatar
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    I had the rapid heart rate with dd. The whole pregnancy. Scared the crap out of me. I never experienced it with any of my boys.
    Mommy to 5 beautiful children and 3 angels in heaven

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    Expecting AGAIN!! Due May 2016. Will it be or ??

    3/11 at 7 weeks
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    11/8/11 @ 18 weeks of pregnancy. Our angel

    Our family is complete

  3. #3
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    I had a murmur when I was pregnant with dd and had to have some tests done. It turned out to be pregnancy related but it was scary at the time.

    I also use to have palpitations when I was planning my wedding. LOL

  4. #4
    Big Dreamer

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    really glad to see this, its what im experiencing now.this and shortness of breath ,dont recall this in my other pregnancies. Of course i will be bringing it up with the dr

  5. #5
    Dream Vet

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    Ive been having this while on the girl diet im not pregnant and ive been drinking tons of coke zero and not enough water it happens at night after a glass of wine do you think this is caffeine it only happens while i lie down and if im asleep and get woken suddenly then my heart races and heart beats through my entire body i used to have it while i was pregnant but had a heart specialist give me the clear,im not pregnant though so is it from the diet drinks and wine?

  6. #6
    Dream Vet

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    I saw in previous posts that Atomic you had issues with drinking diet drinks i think?and had rapid heart beats but couldnt find the posts so i posted here i was wondering your thoughts? You also have this while not pregnant too right?and just to update i stopped wine and chocolate and diet drinks and i havent had ANY episodes since so im pretty sure its one of those im just too scared to introduce one to see which it is it just scares the life out of me,but im leaning towards it being the diet drinks although i was drinking coke zero so caffeine wasnt the issue.

  7. #7
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    I have a rapid heart rate this pregnancy too! This is the first time I've ever had this and it's my first girl....strange! I'm normally around 60-65 bpm but I'm up to 80-90bpm lately. It kinda scared me but I feel normal otherwise.
    Crunchy Mama to 3 rambunctious boys~ '06 :bike: '08 '10

    Our beautiful is here!!

    Felina Lilyanne was born at home ~ 4/12!

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by sweetsister View Post
    Ive been having this while on the girl diet im not pregnant and ive been drinking tons of coke zero and not enough water it happens at night after a glass of wine do you think this is caffeine it only happens while i lie down and if im asleep and get woken suddenly then my heart races and heart beats through my entire body i used to have it while i was pregnant but had a heart specialist give me the clear,im not pregnant though so is it from the diet drinks and wine?
    Sorry I just saw this, I don't always check this section so if you have a q then PM me and let me know it's here.
    I suspect it's the wine and the caffeine because both those things are triggers for me whether or not I'm pregnant.
    Did they tell you if you have SVT or not? It's very common and they can actually fix it if it really starts to interfere with life.

    The issue I had with the Splenda and my heart was that it did make my heart rate increase and gave me what felt like panic attacks. It didn't feel the same as my "normal" tachycardia LOL. It was almost like it affected me mentally, not just physically, while the tachycardia is just physical.
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  9. #9
    Swaying Advice Coach
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    Oh and not sure if you knew this SS but I don't think it's ever a good idea to drink more than 2-3 diet drinks per day anyway.

    It was just Splenda that gave me the anxiety attacks, not aspartame.
    !!! Questions?? Check out the NEW and improved Complete Index !!!

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  10. #10
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    I have PVC's that were discovered during my first pregnancy. My doctor says I probably always had them but just never noticed them before. Apparently, they are super common.
    2004 2006 2010 2012

    My BOY sway worked!! THANK YOU GENDER DREAMING!!

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