Congenital heart problems cause abnormal heartbeats that, even in their most manageable forms, can turn into a crisis once a woman becomes pregnant.

It is especially important for women born with congenital heart problems to discuss them with a cardiologist before becoming pregnant, even if they have had no problems since learning of a murmur early in life, because of the survival risks involved for both mother and baby.

“A lot of patients believe since they are feeling well that they are cured of their heart disease,” said Dr. Curt Daniels, director of the adolescent and adult congenital heart disease program at Ohio State. “If you had heart surgery as a child, the majority are not cured.”

The chances of being born with a heart defect are 0.8 in 1,000, making it the most common birth defect. The most common heart defects are ventricular septal defects (holes in the heart) and bicuspid aortic valves, in which there are two sections rather than the normal three.

Adults with congenital heart problems should be in the regular care of specialists, even if they had undergone surgery as a child, Daniels said. Read the full story here:

Abnormal heartbeat puts pregnancy at risk

The stress of pregnancy can turn an otherwise stable heart defect into a crisis. Any woman with a known heart defect should get a full cardiac work-up before getting pregnant.

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