Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Pregnancy and PVCs

Many women have their first episodes of heart palpitations during pregnancy. This is understandable in that the state of pregnancy causes significant shifts in blood volume (which peaks at 28-32 weeks) and also puts a new stress on the heart that may bring out a tendency for rapid heart action that was not manifest prior to pregnancy. The stroke volume of the heart increases and under the influence of progesterone, the heart can beat irregularly occasionally. After the pregnancy, the patient may not experience palpitations or may begin to see palpitations occur under other stressful circumstances. There certainly doesn't need to be anything wrong with the heart in order for palpitations to occur during pregnancy. But of course, if the palpitations are accompanied with dizziness or shortness of breath, or if the mother has had some history of cardiac problems, she should be seen right away.

My experience? I was sooo nervous about getting pregnant because I feared what it might do to my heart. I got myself so worked up with anxiety that the first trimester was a real nightmare. In fact, I experienced quite a few scary episodes at night while I was asleep. I went and saw my electrophysiologist and I wore a holter monitor for the rest of my first trimester. So if you do experience palpitations during your pregnancy, be sure to mention it to your doctor because they might also want you to wear a holter monitor. I think wearing it gave me reassurance and peace of mind because I don't think I ever experienced nighttime arrhythmia the rest of my pregnancy. As my pregnancy progressed I do remember experiencing the occasional flip-flop but no more or less than my non-pregnant state. And through contractions, drugs, epidural, and pushing (for 3 hours!), my ticker was fine. I was a little nervous about postpartum because I was physically and emotionally exhausted, but at that time, my heart was just doing a happy dance. I was so proud of myself for giving birth to the most beautiful little girl. And the things that I feared (not getting enough sleep, dealing with a newborn, etc.) weren't even an issue when given the privilege of taking care of one of God's children.