Leaky Heart Valves May Cause Maternal Complications

Although the cardiovascular condition was thought to be benign, the disease could put pregnant women at greater risk for serious complications during childbirth.

Although previously thought to be benign, leaky heart valves may put women during childbirth at risk for high blood pressure, organ damage, serious bleeding, and other complications, according to the results of a new study.

“Our findings suggest significant obstetric and cardiovascular complications are associated with regurgitant valves, challenging our current way of thinking that regurgitant valves are benign,” Anum Minhas, MD, the chief clinical and research fellow in the Division of Cardiology at Johns Hopkins Medicine, said in a statement.

"The data tell us that we really can't assume that women who have leakier heart valves are going to be OK during pregnancy,” she said. “They should get the same amount of attention that women with valve stenosis get."

Results from the study by Johns Hopkins Medicine showed that pregnant women with leaky heart valves or narrowed or stenotic valves, “are 100 times more likely to experience cardiac complications” at the time of delivery, according to the statement.

A leaky heart valve can cause maternal complications, such as fluid buildup in the lungs, heart rhythm problems, or heart failure, just as often as women with regurgitant heart valve disease.

The study results showed that most women with valvular disease were older and had a higher prevalence of underlying medical conditions, according to the statement.

Reference

“Leaky” heart valves in pregnant women need more attention than once thought, study suggests. ScienceDaily. News release. September 2, 2021. Accessed September 7, 2021. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/09/210902125102.htm