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Pregnancy boosts cardiac disease mortality nearly 100-fold



The registry data, collected during 2007-2018, showed a clear increase in the percentage of women with WHO class IV cardiovascular disease who became pregnant and entered the registry despite the contraindication designation for that classification, rising from about 1% of enrolled women in 2008 and 2009 to more than 10% of women in 2013, 2016, and 2017. “Individualization is necessary, but all these women are at very high risk and should be counseled against pregnancy,” Dr. Roos-Hesselink said.

The Registry of Pregnancy and Cardiac Disease (ROPAC) enrolled 5,739 pregnant women at any of 138 participating centers in 53 countries including the United States. Clinicians submitted WHO classification of cardiovascular risk for 5,711 of these women. The most common risk was congenital heart disease in 57% of enrolled women, followed by valvular heart disease in 29% and cardiomyopathy in 7%. Nearly 1,200 women in the registry – about 21% of the total – had a WHO I classification, which meant that they would be expected to have no detectable increase in mortality rate during pregnancy, compared with women without cardiac disease, and either no rise in morbidity or a mild effect.

Delivery was by cesarean section in 44% of the pregnancies, roughly twice the rate in women without diagnosed cardiac disease, even though published guidelines don’t advise cesarean delivery because of cardiac disease, Dr. Roos-Hesselink said. “Cesarean sections are used too often, in my opinion,” she commented, but added that many of these women require delivery at a tertiary, specialized center.

Overall fetal mortality was 1%, nearly threefold higher than in pregnancies in women without cardiac disease, and the overall incidence of fetal and neonatal complications was especially high, at 53%, in women with pulmonary arterial hypertension. The incidence of obstetrical complications was roughly similar across the range of cardiac disease type, ranging from 16% to 24%. Premature delivery occurred in 28% of women in the high-risk WHO IV class, compared with a 13% rate among women in the WHO I class. The mortality rate was 0.2% among the WHO class I women, and their heart failure incidence was 5%.

The ROPAC registry is sponsored by the European Society of Cardiology. Dr. Roos-Hesselink had no disclosures.

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