3rd Trimester

Heart/blood clot concerns

Hi! I haven't been on here at all this pregnancy. #2 is definitely different! 

Well now here I am just wondering if anyone could relate. I have had episodes of high heart rates (77bpm on minute, 122 the next). So I asked my OB who then sent me to a cardiologist. I knew they'd just say stress+pregnancy is  causing it and its normal. 
Well my EKG was  abnormal and he wanted to rule out pulmonary embolisms (my biggest fear) so I had a D-Dimer blood test. That came back slightly abnormal but apparently its not unusual for these results in pregnancy but PE's have not been ruled out completely. I have an echocardiogram on Friday and I'm really struggling with anxiety on this one. If my heart looks normal, we will do a CT scan to look for clots. I feel like my only 2 options for the outcome are that it's something wrong with my heart or something wrong with my lungs (PE). Anyone else have similar symptoms or anything to help put me at ease? I know anxiety only makes it worse but I am struggling! 

Re: Heart/blood clot concerns

  • How far along are you?
    The worst thing right now is to panic. I would like to share my experience with you. My father died from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy which is a genetic condition. I have to be routinely scanned for the disease. Before my last scan I had been experiencing chest pain and was convinced I had the disease and that I was going to die. I was so anxious and worked up that I gave myself an irregular heartbeat that was picked up on an ECG. After an echocardiogram they found no evidence of me having the disease. So being really anxious can flag up false positives on some cardiac tests. I was in A&E early in my pregnancy for what I thought was an ectopic (all fine, just really bad implantation pains!) and I was so nervous that they wouldn't let me go home as my heart rate was so fast. They ended up putting me on an IV as they decided I was dehydrated. I know this might not be the helpful as its so hard not to worry, but just try and relax. You've already been through one pregnancy which is great, it shows your body can definitely handle it. To my knowledge pulmonary embolisms cause severe pain in the chest, my grandma had one and she was in quite a state. She is fine now, but has to take blood thinners. Pregnancy really can cause unusual heart rates, and this is normal in most cases. Your heart is working extra hard with all the extra blood in your system. Try relaxation exercises, like deep breathing, which I've found very beneficial for lowering your own heart rate. I experienced a few minor palpitations early in my pregnancy but as my cardiovascular system adjusted this has now disappeared. I know how nerve wracking anything to do with the heart can be though, so if you'd like someone to talk to just let me know. Good luck and best wishes, I'm sure you will be fine X
  • There are two sides to this... One being that pregnancy increases your risk for blood clots which can result in PE, the other being that a d-dimer is irrelevant in pregnancy as it will be elevated regardless if it is a PE or not. Pregnancy can also irritate the heart because of the increased blood volume and work to feed baby which can result in palpitations and elevated heart rate. I'd be curious to know what was abnormal about your ECG but you probably don't have that much detail. One thing to factor into your decision is that CT scans are quite a large dose of radiation that you are exposing your baby to, both through xrays and contrast injection for a PE study. It depends how far along you are as to how high the risk is to your baby. Seeing as you are in the third trimester, the risk is lower, however radiation is cumulative and will remain with your LO, increasing his/her risk for cancer down the line, although a minute risk. If you do have a PE you would most likely have other symptoms besides just elevated heart rate, including shortness of breath, or feeling like you can't get enough air, chest pain, sometimes dizziness or lightheadedness. Hopefully your echo will give you some answers. I would encourage you to have a thorough discussion with both your cardiologist and your OB and ensure you factor in the benefits/risks of both yourself AND your LO. Sometimes cardiologists don't think to factor in the LO into their decision making as they don't deal with pregnancy as frequently. This may be able to be something you can just 'watch and wait'. 
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