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What You Should Know About Arrhythmia During Pregnancy

Under the best of circumstances, pregnancy is a time filled with excitement and considerable apprehension as you do your best to ensure a successful outcome for you and your unborn child. As your body undergoes incredible physiological changes, certain conditions can crop up, which just adds to your already increasing anxiety. Heart arrhythmias are a prime example of one of these unwelcome developments, but they’re not necessarily cause for panic.

At Heart Rhythm Associates, Dr. Van H. De Bruyn and our team help patients in all stages of their lives better navigate their heart health. And for women who are building their families, we take extra care to ensure that the journey is a safe one.

Here’s what you should know about arrhythmia during pregnancy.

Pregnancy-related arrhythmias

The first thing to know about pregnancy and your heart is that heart palpitations occur in almost 60% of pregnant women, which means it’s a highly common occurrence. 

Pregnancy brings with it a host of changes in your body, and one that has a direct effect on your heart is the increase in blood volume. As you incubate a new life, your body requires extra resources, and your blood volume slowly rises throughout your pregnancy as the fetus grows. In fact, by the end of your pregnancy, you may experience a 50% increase in blood volume, which means your heart is working a lot harder.

This change is largely precipitated by your estrogen levels, which are at an all-time high during your pregnancy to help vascularization (the creation of new blood vessels), as well as provide support for your growing fetus and your body.

To keep up with the increased blood volume, your heart works 30-50% harder than normal, and your resting heart rate during your third trimester can approach 100 beats per minute.

And this increase in workload in your heart can often lead to palpitations and premature atrial beats, which are extra heartbeats that lead to an ectopic rhythm. 

While this type of non-sustained arrhythmia is perfectly normal, we do want to make sure that it’s not a sign of an underlying problem that’s simply revealing itself during your pregnancy, such as hyperthyroidism or a pulmonary embolism. 

In most cases, the events are benign and we don’t recommend any treatments, sometimes simple breathing techniques will be enough to help you regulate your heart rhythm. 

Pre-existing problems that lead to arrhythmias

If you have a known heart defect or you’ve had issues with heart disease, we need to monitor you more carefully, especially if your arrhythmia becomes sustained. Even if you were unaware of a pre-existing heart problem before your pregnancy, this tumultuous period can reveal the issue, usually through arrhythmia.

In these cases, our approach depends entirely upon the problem and your health, but rest assured, we’re with you every step of the way.

To learn more about arrhythmia and pregnancy, please give our Little Rock, Arkansas, office a call at (501) 270-6618 or use our convenient online booking tool to schedule a consultation.

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