Management of acute cardiovascular complications in pregnancy

Gabriele Egidy Assenza*, Konstantinos Dimopoulos, Werner Budts, Andrea Donti, Katherine E. Economy, Gaetano Domenico Gargiulo, Michael Gatzoulis, Michael Job Landzberg, Anne Marie Valente, Jolien Roos-Hesselink

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


The growing population of women with heart disease of reproductive age has been associated with an increasing number of high-risk pregnancies. Pregnant women with heart disease are a very heterogeneous population, with different risks for maternal cardiovascular, obstetric, and foetal complications. Adverse cardiovascular events during pregnancy pose significant clinical challenges, with uncertainties regarding diagnostic and therapeutic approaches potentially compromising maternal and foetal health. This review summarizes best practice for the treatment of common cardiovascular complications during pregnancy, based on expert opinion, current guidelines, and available evidence. Topics covered include heart failure (HF), arrhythmias, coronary artery disease, aortic and thromboembolic events, and the management of mechanical heart valves during pregnancy. Cardiovascular pathology is the leading cause of non-obstetric morbidity and mortality during pregnancy in developed countries. For women with pre-existing cardiac conditions, preconception counselling and structured follow-up during pregnancy are important measures for reducing the risk of acute cardiovascular complications during gestation and at the time of delivery. However, many women do not receive pre-pregnancy counselling often due to gaps in what should be lifelong care, and physicians are increasingly encountering pregnant women who present acutely with cardiac complications, including HF, arrhythmias, aortic events, coronary syndromes, and bleeding or thrombotic events. This review provides a summary of recommendations on the management of acute cardiovascular complication during pregnancy, based on available literature and expert opinion. This article covers the diagnosis, risk stratification, and therapy and is organized according to the clinical presentation and the type of complication, providing a reference for the practicing cardiologist, obstetrician, and acute medicine specialist, while highlighting areas of need and potential future research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4224-4240
Number of pages17
JournalEuropean Heart Journal
Issue number41
Early online date18 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2021

Bibliographical note

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© 2021 Published on behalf of the European Society of Cardiology. All rights reserved.


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