A new study conducted by the Smidt Heart Institute has found that pregnant women with a history of substance abuse face a significantly higher risk of death from heart attacks and strokes during childbirth compared to women without a history of substance abuse. The study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology: Advances, reveals that substance use during pregnancy can double the risk of cardiovascular events and maternal mortality during delivery.
The substances examined in the study included cocaine, opioids, alcohol, amphetamine/methamphetamine, and cannabis. Each substance carried varying degrees of risk to expectant mothers. Amphetamine/methamphetamine was found to have the greatest association with the development of acute heart failure, heart attack, cardiac arrest, and maternal mortality. Cocaine had the strongest association with stroke and arrhythmias, opioid use was associated with infection of the heart valves, alcohol use posed the greatest risk for arrhythmias, and cannabis use was associated with an increased risk of heart attack.
The study analyzed data from 60,014,368 delivery hospitalizations between 2004 and 2018, using the Nationwide Inpatient Sample database. Out of this sample, substance use complicated 1.6% of deliveries, leading to conditions such as heart attack, stroke, arrhythmia, endocarditis, acute cardiomyopathy, heart failure, and cardiac arrest.
The findings emphasize the need for additional medical care for pregnant women with substance use disorders. Prenatal care for women with a history of substance abuse should include a multidisciplinary approach involving high-risk pregnancy specialists and cardiologists to identify and mitigate adverse outcomes.
It is important to recognize substance abuse as an independent risk factor for cardiovascular events in pregnancy to ensure the well-being of both pregnant women and their children.
Source: Cedars-Sinai Medical Center