4 Steps for Addressing Underlying Cardiac Conditions Known to Put Black Mothers at Risk

As you now know, the United States has some of the worst rates of maternal and infant health outcomes in the entire developed world. Black women in America are two-to-three times more likely to die during pregnancy and childbirth than white women, no matter their socioeconomic status.

While many factors contribute to adverse maternal health outcomes (including racism and psychosocial stress), it's important to be knowledgeable of the trinity of underlying morbidities: hypertension, preeclampsia, obesity, and diabetes. All of these are causative to heart disease, the leading killer of women in the United States.

In this video, maternal fetal medicine specialist Dr. Kecia Gaither shares four action steps that will help Black women address and mitigate these underlying morbidities:

1. If you are thinking of becoming pregnant, see your doctor, so that any underlying medical conditions can be optimized. A history of hypertension or preeclampsia can damage your heart. Ensure that you have a thorough cardiac evaluation, and one that should continue yearly.
2. Ensure you keep your prenatal visits, fetal surveillance tests and take your medications as prescribed. Know that your input in your prenatal care not only benefits your health, but the health of your unborn child.
3. If you feel as if your provider doesn't hear or value your concerns, know you have the options of seeking other providers.
4. Get your COVID vaccination, particularly if you're pregnant, and have underlying health conditions like hypertension or heart disease.

Visit OWN's Heart Health page throughout the month of February for vital updates and information about cardiac disease prevention.