Best Life: Early detection of cardiovascular disease

Published: Dec. 13, 2022 at 7:21 AM CST
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LOS ANGELES, Calif. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – More than 3.5 million babies were born in 2022 in the United States.

It should be the happiest of times for new parents, yet thousands of women die each year either during pregnancy or in the weeks immediately following birth due to cardiovascular disease.

One doctor is hoping to get women the help they need.

Your baby’s heartbeat is the sound every expectant mother wants to hear but making sure your unborn baby’s heart is healthy should not be your only concern.

“The biggest contributing factors that led to the maternal death were lack of awareness and lack of recognition of symptoms,” said UCI Health Ob/Gyn, Dr. Afshan Hameed.

Because pregnancy symptoms and cardiovascular symptoms often overlap, many times the warning signs are ignored.

That’s why a new national study is using a risk-assessment tool to diagnose cardiovascular disease during pregnancy.

“If the patient is complaining of shortness of breath or chest pain, pay attention. If there are vital sign abnormalities, like heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen, pay attention,” said Dr. Hameed.

The algorithm looks at 18 risk factors.

“This algorithm was applied to those 64 patients who had died, and we would’ve detected 93% of them as being high risk for cardiovascular disease,” said Dr. Hameed.

A current study funded by the NIH is underway to screen 3,000 pregnant women.

“It literally takes about 30 seconds to just make a few clicks and you know if the patient is high risk or not,” said Dr. Hameed.

A few questions asked in less than a minute could be time well spent saving a new mother’s life.

The risk-assessment tool is already becoming the standard of care in Georgia, Pennsylvania, and some areas of California and New York. Dr. Hameed hopes to create an even simpler standardized national screening tool with fewer questions to make it more user-friendly so it could be applied to every pregnant woman everywhere.

Contributors to this news report include: Marsha Lewis, Producer; Roque Correa, Videographer & Editor.

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