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Maternal adaptations to pregnancy: Cardiovascular and hemodynamic changes

Michael R Foley, MD
Section Editors
Charles J Lockwood, MD, MHCM
Bernard J Gersh, MB, ChB, DPhil, FRCP, MACC
Deputy Editor
Kristen Eckler, MD, FACOG


The major pregnancy-related hemodynamic changes include increased cardiac output, expanded blood volume, and reduced systemic vascular resistance and blood pressure. These changes contribute to optimal growth and development of the fetus and help to protect the mother from the risks of delivery, such as hemorrhage. Knowledge of these cardiovascular adaptations is required to correctly interpret hemodynamic and cardiovascular tests in the gravida, to predict the effects of pregnancy on the woman with underlying cardiac disease, and to understand how the fetus will be affected by maternal cardiac disorders.

The cardiovascular changes associated with normal pregnancy will be reviewed here. The management of specific cardiac disorders, such as acquired and congenital heart disease, heart failure, and arrhythmias, are discussed separately.

(See "Acquired heart disease and pregnancy".)

(See "Pregnancy in women with congenital heart disease: General principles".)

(See "Pregnancy in women with congenital heart disease: Specific lesions".)

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Literature review current through: Sep 2017. | This topic last updated: Oct 10, 2017.
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