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Date of last update: 10/20/2017.

Forum Name: Arrhythmias

Question: Arrhythmias and Pregnancy

 needtoknow2009 - Sat Nov 14, 2009 2:28 am

I was diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat in 1999. I require no medicine for this diagnosis and have been "re-examined" regarding my irregular heartbeat twice since that original diagnosis just to make sure nothing had changed. Each time it has been determined that my irregular heartbeat is "regular in its irregularity" and of no real concern at this time. I notice palpitations whenever I get scared, surprised or am highly anxious about something...but other than that I have gotten used to how it feels and really am rather unaware for the most part.

I recently, however, found out I was pregnant. And I have questions about having an arrythmia and how labor and delivery might affect that. When I research this online all I am able to pull up is that being pregnant can cause temporary arrythmias. But I am wanting to know what kind of affect it has on women who have EXISTING arrythmias prior to pregnancy...and I am having little luck getting that information. I had a child in 2000 with no problems...but he was a c-section because of his there was no stress involved in the delivery.

Also, I would really like to have a natural birth...but didn't know if, with a history of irregular heartbeat, if it would be better to have an epidural to ease the stress of the situation on my body.

Thank you for helping to answer some of my questions. :)
 John Kenyon, CNA - Sat Nov 28, 2009 10:51 pm

User avatar Hi there -- Well then. First we need to know for certain what your "regularly irregular" arrhythmia is. I strongly suspect it is common premature ventricular contractions (PVCs), as this description would apply to that (the premature beat is followed by a compensatory pause exactly long enough so the next regular beat occurs right on time) or ventricular bigemeny (PVCs occuring in group patterns with every other beat in the group a PVC -- also regularly irregular). In either case, if this is the case, these are quite normal and harmless -- almost everyone has some, more or less, and at varying times. They often occur more often in axious people, but in some people they are the cause of anxiety -- which then provokes more of them. They occur more often during stress, during pregnancy, with caffeine intake, smoking, drinking, digestion, growing sleepy, lying on one's left side, or sometimes for no apparent reason.

I do wish your doctor had been more clear about exactly what he terms "irregular" heartbeat, and I believe I have guessed correctly, but since he didn't give you a full explanation (as is so often the case) you're left now wondering exactly what implications this may have. If in fact these are common PVCs -- or even PACs (premature atrial contractions, although these are not truly "regularly irregular" as a rule) they may become more frequent during advanced stages of pregnancy,but otherwise should have little or no significance. I'd simply like to know, via the doctor's words, whether or not this is in fact the problem -- and if it is it's no problem. Chances are this is the case, but because I don't know this for a fact it would be improper of me to simply assume it to be the case and tell you it's fine, nothing to worry about. This probably is so, but I won't say it unless I know what the actual arrhythmia is. I'd strongly suggest you trouble your doctor for an explanation, as you will be having another baby and while I'd expect a responsible doctor to take this into account, this is something left just kind of hanging. If this were a betting game I'd bet on no problem at all, but it's not, we don't bet on these things, we deal in facts, so the best thing to do would be to ask the doctor directly.

I hope this is helpful. Please follow up with us here as needed and good luck to you.

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