Safer Pregnancies for Moms with Heart Defects

CLEVELAND. (KFSN) -- Not all that long ago, being born with a serious congenital heart defect was often fatal. But now, most children born with one are living healthy, long lives. Now, as grown-ups, they want to have babies themselves, which brings on new challenges that one hospital is trying to meet.

Victoria Sines, like more than one-point-five million other Americans, grew up with a congenital heart defect... Marfan syndrome caused her aorta to be enlarged. Before she became pregnant, she didn't think she was ever going to be a mom

Sines told Ivanhoe, "When I found out I was pregnant with Alex, it changed everything."

It's a good and troubling trend. More women with heart defects survive grow up and want to be moms. It's risky for them and their kids.

Jeff Chapa, M.D., Section Head of Maternal Fetal Medicine at Cleveland Clinic explained, "For instance, your heart has to work about 50 percent harder, so pump 50 percent more blood during pregnancy at its peak. So people who've had heart disease, their hearts may not be able to accommodate that extra load, and that's where they can get into trouble."

The Cleveland Clinic has a program just for them. A team of high-risk obstetricians, cardiologists and fetal medical specialists evaluates moms-to-be, and intensely monitors them throughout their pregnancies.

Victoria had Alex in the special delivery unit, right next to the hospital's heart unit...just in case.

Spending her last six weeks of pregnancy in the hospital... Victoria learned Alex has Marfan syndrome, too.

She said, "He is the light of my life. He is my miracle. He's changed everything for me. He's made everything so much better."

Thanks, not in small part, to the hospital's super team of specialists.

Dr. Chapa says fear and a lack of knowledge are the two biggest challenges his team deals with. He's working on a presentation that will explain this special team approach to both parents-to-be and doctors alike.

For more information, contact:

Andrea Pacetti
Cleveland Clinic Media Relations
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