If you’re thinking about getting pregnant, doctors want you to think about heart health first

Dr. Costa Sousou, the chair of the OB-GYN department at Mayo Clinic Health System in La Crosse, recommends coming in for a physical examination and a pre-conception consultation before getting pregnant. That way doctors can help you avoid the increased risk for heart trouble that comes with pregnancy.

Dr. Sousou said the strain pregnancy puts on a heart can be especially dangerous for those who already have heart problems.

“Pregnancy has an effect on the heart itself. With a normal pregnancy the cardiac output, or the amount of volume that’s released by the heart, increases by 30% to 50% totally in the pregnancy. Along with that, the heart rate also rises as well,” said Dr. Sousou.

Before getting pregnant, Dr. Sousou said that it’s a good idea to stop smoking, get to a healthy body weight and make sure blood pressure medication you may be taking is safe in pregnancy.

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