Heart Disease

Heart Disease - UCLA Obstetrics and Gynecology

Find your care

Whether you need a preventative examination, pregnancy care or treatment for a gynecological condition, our OB/GYN specialists are here for you. Call 310-794-7274 to schedule an appointment today.

What are the symptoms of heart disease?

Illustration of Fetal Circulation

The following are common symptoms of heart disease. However, every woman may experience them differently. Symptoms may include:

  • Difficulty breathing, especially at night or without exertion
  • Inability to perform normal activities, due to weakness or fatigue
  • Light-headedness or fainting
  • Palpitations (irregular heartbeat)
  • Cyanosis (blue-coloring due to low levels of oxygen in the blood)

The symptoms of heart disease may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your health care provider for a diagnosis.

Your Heart in Pregnancy

Your heart is the hardest working muscle in your body. Located almost in the center of your chest, your heart is about the size of one fist.

Beating at an average rate of 80 times a minute, your heart beats about 115,000 times in one day, or 42 million times in a year. During an average lifetime, your heart will beat more than three billion times. It pumps an amount of blood that equals about one million barrels. Even at rest, your heart continuously works hard.

Beginning in your first trimester, your blood volume increases to approximately 50 percent more than before your pregnancy. The extra fluid puts an increased workload on your heart. Your heart responds by increasing its cardiac output. This is the amount of blood that goes through your circulatory system in one minute. Other body systems also respond. Blood pressure decreases to allow the increased blood volume to flow. During labor and delivery, great changes in your heart and vascular system can occur. Large amounts of blood move from your uterus into your circulation, as your uterus contracts. This causes major changes in blood pressure, heart rate, and cardiac output. Epidural or spinal anesthesia may cause blood pressure to decrease.

After delivery, cardiac output increases and your heart rate slows. Excessive blood loss with delivery can change your heart rate, blood pressure, and cardiac output.