Tommy's PregnancyHub

Pregnant women should be aware of heart disease symptoms

A recent study has shown that heart disease is a leading cause of maternal death in the UK. Our midwife Nikki explains why pregnant women should be made more aware of heart disease symptoms.

The number of women that develop heart disease during pregnancy or soon after birth has risen sharply since the 80s. The condition often goes unnoticed by mums as many are not aware of the symptoms.

Pregnancy and childbirth put a strain on the entire body. An increase in the average age of mums, combined with factors such as obesity and family history, mean that many women might be at risk of heart disease without realising.

The study found that in several cases mums hadn’t reported symptoms such as severe chest pain because they didn’t know that they could indicate a heart attack.

Heart disease in pregnancy

While dying from heart disease in pregnancy or after childbirth is still uncommon, it is important that doctors and midwives make women aware of the symptoms, especially if they are considered at high risk.

Our midwife Nikki explains more about heart disease in pregnancy:

"An increase in the average age of mums as well as a rise in the number of overweight mums will have impacted on the number of cases of heart disease in pregnant women that we see nowadays. The important thing is to make sure that mums are aware of the symptoms of heart disease, and to identify those at risk by flagging things like high blood pressure and family history during the early stages of pregnancy. Mums at risk should be told to watch out for symptoms such as breathlessness and chest pain and to contact their doctor or midwife immediately if they experience them."

Read more about heart disease in pregnancy, including the symptoms to look out for, on the NHS Choices website 

Heartburn in pregnancy

Hormones and, later in pregnancy, your womb pressing on your stomach can sometimes leave you bloated, burpy, sick or with a nasty heart burning sensation. While extremely unpleasant and painful, this is not something to worry about. 

Make a note of what sets it off. Try to avoid these foods (spicy foods, chocolate and fruit juice are often to blame), especially in the evenings

  • Try eating smaller meals more frequently
  • Sit up straight when you’re eating to take the pressure of your stomach
  • Finish eating about three hours before bedtime
  • Try drinking milk when you get heartburn (and keep a glass handy in the night)
  • Prop yourself up with pillows in bed
  • Ask your midwife or GP about antacids and algates.

If your heartburn is severe and is not relieved by the advice above treatments then you should speak to your midwife or GP.

Read more common pregnancy complaints.

Genetic diseases and pregnancy

Read our FAQs on genetic diseases and pregnancy here.