According to a new report, cardiovascular disease (CVD), including myocardial infarction, heart failure and arrhythmias, remains the leading cause of maternal deaths in the UK.
The report termed 'Saving Lives, Improving Mothers’ Care’ is developed for the Maternal, Newborn and Infant Clinical Outcome Review Programme run by the Mothers and Babies: Reducing Risk through Audits and Confidential Enquiries across the UK (MBRRACE-UK) collaboration based on the analysis of 2.3 million pregnancies in the UK and Ireland between 2015 and 2017.
A total of 209 women died during their pregnancies or six weeks after birth as a result of pregnancy-related causes, corresponding to a mortality rate of nine women per 100,000. Twenty-three per cent of deaths were attributable to CVD, 16 per cent to thrombosis and 13 per cent to epilepsy and stroke. Other important causes of mortality were sepsis (10%), mental health conditions (10%) and cancer (4%).
Several women who died from CVD had presented classic symptoms which were likely to be flagged in a non-pregnant person but were disregarded in the women owing to their pregnancy. Three-quarters of the women were unaware of their heart disease before they conceived.
Professor Marian Knight, who led the study, said: "Pregnancy places additional strain on the heart and it is important for women and their families to be aware that they may experience symptoms of heart disease for the first time during or after pregnancy."