Cardiovascular disorders are the leading cause of maternal mortality in the US, and Black women have higher rates of pregnancy-related heart attack, stroke, peripartum cardiomyopathy, and pulmonary embolism than White women, even when differences in age, health conditions, cesarean section rate, socioeconomic factors, and access to health care are taken into account.

With growing recognition of the heart-related risks of pregnancy, cardio-obstetrics is emerging as a new multidisciplinary specialty—a link between cardiology and obstetrical care that experts say is crucial to the effort to reduce maternal mortality, as is a clearer understanding of cardiovascular events related to pregnancy. In December 2020 Saint Luke’s Health System launched the nation’s first prospective registry of cardiovascular disease in pregnancy in the US, starting with a pilot project in collaboration with Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in Boston.

The aim of the Heart Outcomes in Pregnancy Expectations (HOPE) Registry for Mom and Baby is to eventually enroll 1,000 pregnant or postpartum women with a cardiovascular disorder and to follow them for five years. As many as thirty-five medical institutions are expected to participate.

Health Affairs talked to the co-directors of Saint Luke's Heart Disease in Pregnancy Program, maternal-fetal medicine specialist Dr. Karen Florio and cardiologist Dr. Laura Schmidt, along with Dr. Anna Grodzinsky, a cardiologist who specializes in women's heart disease at Saint Luke's Mid America Heart Institute, about a Missouri cardio-obstetrics program and a national registry target the leading cause of maternal death.

Read the full Health Affairs article: Getting To The Heart Of America’s Maternal Mortality Crisis

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