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Corrigan Minehan Heart Center

Cardiovascular Disease and Pregnancy Program

The Cardiovascular Disease and Pregnancy Program at Mass General provides personalized and exceptional multidisciplinary care for people who are pregnant, or those who desire pregnancy, with either congenital or acquired cardiac conditions.
Doctor with baby
Doctor with baby

Explore This Treatment Program

Overview

The Cardiovascular Disease and Pregnancy Program at the Massachusetts General Hospital Corrigan Minehan Heart Center provides personalized, expert care for people who are pregnant, or those who desire pregnancy (counseling before you become pregnant), who either have a pre-existing heart condition or are at high risk for developing one.

The goals of the program are to:

  • Ensure the best possible pregnancy outcomes for birthing parents and babies 
  • Help people who are pregnant or have given birth maintain long-term cardiovascular health
  • Educate the medical professional and patient community about cardiovascular health during pregnancy
  • Support and pioneer new knowledge that betters the lives of people who are pregnant

The Importance of Cardiovascular Health During Pregnancy

It is important for patients who have pre-existing heart conditions, or are high risk for them, to seek specialized medical care when pregnant or trying to become pregnant. Pregnancy is a unique time in a birthing parent’s life during which the cardiovascular system is significantly altered. During pregnancy, blood volume increases, blood pressure falls, the blood thickens and the heart pumps 30-50% more blood a minute than what is typical. These changes persist after delivery.

Some heart conditions can pose a risk during pregnancy for both the birthing parent and the baby. Such conditions include:

  • Hypertensive disorders of pregnancy (high blood pressure, preeclampsia, HELLP syndrome, gestational hypertension)
  • Prior heart conditions that necessitated cardiovascular care
  • Newly diagnosed heart condition during or after pregnancy
  • Women previously treated with chemotherapy that impacts the heart (for example Adriamycin or chest radiation)
  • Personal or family history of genetic heart conditions

Highest risk conditions include:

  • Cardiomyopathy (weakened heart pump, example peripartum cardiomyopathy)
  • Pulmonary hypertension (high pressure in lung arteries)
  • Myocardial infarction (heart attack)
  • Valve disease
  • Congenital heart disease
  • Aortic disease
  • Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection (SCAD)

 Complications that can result from cardiovascular disease during pregnancy include stroke, heart attack, heart failure, arrhythmia and heart valve complications.

Learn more about pregnancy's effect on the heart >

Highest Quality Reproductive Care

Our program is committed to providing the highest quality reproductive care for all patients who desire pregnancy or need to consider pregnancy termination. Mass General along with the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology reaffirms the commitment to continue to provide the full range of high-quality, compassionate, patient-centered reproductive care for our patients. Please see important updates to our Family Planning Program.

Care from a Multidisciplinary Team

Patients in the Mass General Cardiovascular Disease and Pregnancy Program are cared for by an integrative team of specialists that guide them every step of the way. Our cardiac specialists work closely with maternal-fetal medicine specialists, anesthesiologists and cardiac imaging specialists to guide patients through planning, pregnancy and delivery. But our focus is also on lifelong postpartum cardiac care. The Cardiovascular Disease and Pregnancy Program serves a bridge to long-term cardiovascular health.

Providers in our program also lead patient care in the:

What to Expect

Our doctors and staff provide individualized care and treatment plans for patients before, during and after pregnancy. After consultation, our team of doctors and nurses meet to comprehensively review an individual’s information and establish a detailed multidisciplinary labor and delivery plan and anticipate all possible care needs for both mothers and babies. Clinicians are experienced in a variety of cardiovascular treatment during pregnancy, and in some situations testing, such as ultrasounds and exercise tests, might be useful to inform a patient’s risk. Our team wants to make sure you feel comfortable and so we will guide you every step of the way to ensure your questions have been answered from the cardiology team, the maternal fetal medicine experts and obstetric anesthesiologists.

Ways We Support Our Patients

Education

Our program is committed to educating the medical professional and patient community about cardiovascular health during pregnancy. There is an urgent need for increased awareness and knowledge about the cardiovascular impacts during pregnancy to turn the tides of maternal mortality in the United States. 

Our program has held an annual education series for medical professional bringing together obstetricians, cardiologists and anesthesiologists to learn collaboratively about management of high risk cardiovascular conditions in pregnancy. 
Learn More>

Our Team











Co-directors:

Faculty: 

Registered Nurses:

  • Mary Appleyard, RN
  • Lauren McLaughlin, RN

Nurse Practitioners:

  • Sherrin Gallagher, NP
  • Patricia Williams, NP
  • Alexis Auger, NP
  • Charlene O’Reilly, NP 

Physician Assistant:

  • Kate Shepperd, PA

Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialists:

Patient Stories

Contact Us

The Cardiovascular Disease and Pregnancy Program at Mass General provides personalized and exceptional multidisciplinary care for people who are pregnant, or those who desire pregnancy, with either congenital or acquired cardiac conditions.