There is a growing risk of having a heart attack during pregnancy and child birth as the number of expectant women with heart, complications surge both in Uganda and across the world.
Although pregnancy carries some risk for all women, Medics from the Uganda Heart Institute say that the risk for both mother and child becomes even bigger for those with heart problems. The doctors add that they are now receiving more expectant women suffering from Pulmonary Artery Hypertension, Rheumatic Heart Disease, Coronary Artery Disease and Abnormal Heart Murmurs.
Pulmonary Artery Hypertension — a condition comprising of high blood pressure in the arteries that go from the heart to the lungs is the commonest detected among pregnant women. Others have suffered the weakening the heart muscle, especially during the last month of pregnancy.
Dr John Omagino, the Executive Director of the Uganda Heart Institute says that the increase is mainly due to lifestyles coupled with the failure by women to detect conditions long before the pregnancy cycle.
Recent research conducted by New York University School of Medicine researchers, also suggested the risk of having a heart attack during pregnancy rises as women get older.
“A woman between the ages of 35 to 39 who becomes pregnant is five times more likely to suffer a heart attack than a woman in her 20s, and women in their early 40s are 10 times more at risk than women in their 20s,” the research established.
“People are sick but some of them do not know they have heart diseases but even those who know cannot access treatment at times,” Dr Omagino said. He estimates that more than 500 pregnant women in Uganda have underlying heart problems, some of which have never been detected.
According to doctors, if women do not receive treatment during the duration of their pregnancy, child birth is likely to weaken their hearts more and lead to death.
The World Health Organization estimates that 40 percent of pregnant women, who suffer from heart diseases globally, die as a result of having both complications.
Prof. Karen Sliwa, the director of the Hatter Institute for Cardiovascular Research in Africa observes that the condition affects the development of the fetus which could lead to heart diseases in a child or premature births if it goes untreated.
Prof. Sliwa equally decries the high number of deaths to the poor diagnosis of heart complications.