Advance with MUSC Health

Pregnancy & Heart Health

Advance With MUSC Health
February 08, 2021
Rochell Judd N.P. Cardiology

Each February, MUSC Health joins in the celebration of American Heart Month, and focusing on your heart health has never been more important. People with poor cardiovascular health are also at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19. But, there's a lot you can do to prevent heart disease, a leading cause of death in the United States. Throughout the month, MUSC Health will be sharing heart health tips to inspire and motivate you and those you love to make heart health a regular part of your routine.

Pregnancy is a joyous time, but it also puts extra strain on a mother's heart and blood vessels. This means women with existing heart conditions are at higher risk for cardiovascular complications and should receive specialized care. Rochelle Judd, a Nurse Practitioner at the MUSC Health Heart & Vascular Center, specializes in adult congenital cardiology and focuses on working with these women. Pregnant women with existing heart conditions can develop life threatening arrhythmias or heart failure, so Judd sees them throughout pregnancy, labor, and delivery. During pregnancy, the amount of blood in a woman's body increases by 30 to 50 percent, and her heart has to beat faster and harder to circulate oxygen and nutrients to the baby. Labor and delivery put even more stress on the heart, and it takes several weeks after delivery for these stresses to return to pre-pregnancy levels. Judd follows high-risk mothers-to-be every month and consults with other physicians to make sure she gets the best care possible. "I get calls from patients' obstetricians, primary care doctors, even their dermatologists. For example, they might call to make sure that prescribing a new medication won't negatively impact the heart condition," says Judd. "I am always there for them–working with the team, meeting with their other providers, and making sure we have the best plan for safely delivering a healthy baby."