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Why so many pregnant women are dying

When a woman discovers she is pregnant, the visits to her New York health care provider will typically become more and more frequent, the closer she gets to the birth. The standard examinations and tests allow the doctor to identify the most commonly occurring pregnancy issues. According to the American Heart Association, for many women, these are not enough.

Research indicates that cardiac arrest kills approximately one out of every 12,000 American women who are admitted to the hospital for delivery. This does not include pregnant mothers who are not at the hospital when their heart malfunctions and stops beating. Researchers believe one problem is a lack of education for those who treat women suffering from cardiac arrest. For example, while CPR should be performed the same, a first responder, emergency room provider or staff member in the obstetrics department may not understand the minor differences in defibrillation protocols or other important details.

The AHA points out that there are many contributors to the increasing number of pregnancy-related fatalities, but statistics show cardiovascular disease is at the top of the list. This could be in part because of the number of high-risk pregnancies. The following health conditions could contribute to the likelihood of cardiac arrest:

  •          Age
  •          Diabetes
  •          High blood pressure
  •          High cholesterol
  •          Obesity
  •          Preeclampsia

These issues or others may cause cardiac arrest when amniotic fluid leaks into the mother’s bloodstream, when she develops a severe infection, or in the event of bleeding or heart failure. Experts recommend that pregnant women with risk factors for cardiac arrest be referred to a provider who has specialized knowledge in recognizing the threats they impose. 

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