Pregnancy and Cardiac Arrhythmia
While research is still necessary, it is abundantly clear that hormonal changes in the body represent a significant risk for cardiovascular abnormalities not least of which are cardiac arrhythmias. One of the most disruptive of such changes in the human body comes because of pregnancy. In fact, of all the cardiac complications that a woman may experience during her pregnancy, an arrhythmia or irregular heartbeat is one of the most common.
As with the wider population, it is not often that pregnant women urgently require invasive therapy for an arrhythmia. However, there is also little research into understanding the effects of antiarrhythmic and anticoagulant medication on pregnant women. Therefore, it is important to have a collaborative discussion with the OBGYN and an experienced cardiac electrophysiologist like Dr. Tordini.
Blood Thinners to Avoid
As you may know, blood thinning medication is used in Afib patient to reduce the risk of blood clot formation that may ultimately lead to a stroke. This is no different in pregnant women. In fact, pregnancy itself can increase the risk of blood clots in the leg. However, certain anticoagulant medication used in the wider population may not be recommended for pregnant women. These include warfarin, dabigatran, rivaroxaban and apixaban. You may have seen these medications marketed under their brand names Coumadin, Pradaxa, Xarelto and Eliquis respectively. Instead, heparin injections may be an option for anticoagulation during pregnancy. Of course, as with any medication, speak to your doctor about possible side effects and adverse effects.
Post pregnancy Afib Treatment
Once your child is born, you will likely be able to resume your pre-pregnancy atrial fibrillation treatment. If you developed Afib during pregnancy, this is a time to speak to your electrophysiologist and your primary care physician about proper management of the condition.
We have also discussed the potential for worsening of a cardiac arrhythmia due to depression and in particular postpartum depression. Again, we suggest speaking to your primary care physician or electrophysiologist openly and honestly about how to manage both conditions.
Depending on the number of risk factors, a curative cardiac catheter ablation or cryo-ablation may be appropriate.