How Atrial Fibrillation Affects Pregnancy

Coping With AFib and Pregnancy

Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is a heart rhythm disorder, causing an arrhythmia (an irregular heartbeat). AFib generally goes undiagnosed until something goes wrong.

Pregnant women living with AFib must pay special attention to their heart rates in order ensure a healthy pregnancy. Essentially, you need to make sure your heart rate stays at a normal level – which is 60 to 100 beats per minute.

Pregnant women are generally at a higher risk for blood clots of the heart during pregnancy. Pregnancy also increases the risk for blood clots in the legs.

If you have A-Fib, your doctor may prescribe blood thinning medications to reduce your chance of a clot. It is also possible for you to develop AFib during pregnancy.

Heart Changes During Pregnancy

When you are pregnant, your blood volume increases by up to 50 percent, which means your heart has to work much harder to pump blood throughout your body. As result, increases in heart rate – up to 25 percent – are not unusual, even in healthy women.

Blood volume and heart rate increases may trigger palpitations – when the heart beats too fast or irregularly. This is one symptom of an arrhythmia; other symptoms include lightheadedness, shortness of breath, and anxiety.

For healthy women or women with no previous history of arrhythmia, symptoms are generally harmless. But if you have had a previous abnormal heart rhythm or other heart conditions, an arrhythmia should be treated seriously, as it may be a sign of a bigger problem.

And if you have already been diagnosed with AFib, any arrhythmia symptoms, especially palpitations, need immediate medical attention.



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