Cardiovascular Deaths in Pregnancy: Growing Concerns and Preventive Strategies

Anish Keepanasseril, Birgit Pfaller, Amy Metcalfe, Samuel C Siu, Melinda B Davis, Candice K Silversides

Research output: Journal article (peer-reviewed)Review article

11 Citations (Scopus)


There has been an increase in maternal deaths from cardiovascular disease in many countries. In high-income countries, cardiovascular deaths secondary to cardiomyopathies, ischemic heart disease, sudden arrhythmic deaths, aortic dissection, and valve disease are responsible for up to one-third of all pregnancy-related maternal deaths. In low- and middle-income countries, rheumatic heart disease is a much more common cause of cardiac death during pregnancy. Although deaths occur in women with known heart conditions or cardiovascular risk factors such as hypertension, many women present for the first time in pregnancy with unrecognised heart disease or with de novo cardiovascular conditions such as preeclampsia, peripartum cardiomyopathy, spontaneous coronary artery dissection. Not only has maternal cardiovascular mortality increased, but serious cardiac morbidity, or "near misses," during pregnancy also have increased in frequency. Although maternal morbidity and mortality are often preventable, many health professionals remain unaware of the impact of cardiovascular disease in this population, and the lack of awareness contributes to inappropriate care and preventable deaths. In this review, we discuss the maternal mortality from cardiovascular causes in both high- and low- and middle-income countries and strategies to improve outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1969-1978
Number of pages10
JournalCanadian Journal of Cardiology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • Cause of Death/trends
  • Female
  • Global Health
  • Guidelines as Topic
  • Humans
  • Maternal Death/etiology
  • Maternal Mortality/trends
  • Morbidity/trends
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Cardiovascular/epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Preventive Medicine/standards
  • Risk Factors


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