AHN Opens Dedicated Clinic for Obstetric Patients Experiencing Complex Heart Conditions

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Timed with American Heart Month, Clinic Launch Increases Awareness of the Worrying Trends Surrounding Maternal Heart Health

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“Those eligible for the newly-launched AHN clinic include any patient exhibiting cardiac symptoms during pregnancy, or patients who wish to conceive who have a prior history of cardiovascular disease,” said Dr. Poornima.

Allegheny Health Network (AHN) announced today it has established a multidisciplinary cardio-obstetrics clinic to care for patients diagnosed with cardiovascular disease who are pregnant, trying to conceive, or in the postpartum period.

Timed to coincide with American Heart Month, today’s announcement is a clinical milestone for the network as it aims to strategically address – and raise awareness of – the notable increase in cardiovascular complications among pregnant population.

The AHN Cardio-Obstetrics Clinic is based in Pittsburgh’s Bloomfield neighborhood (5140 Liberty Ave.) adjacent to AHN West Penn hospital, and is under the direction of physician leads Indu Poornima, MD, director of AHN Women’s Heart Center, and Devon M. Ramaeker, MD, director of AHN Maternal-Fetal Medicine division. Patients can also schedule appointments at AHN Allegheny General and AHN Wexford hospitals.

The clinic’s opening aligns with recent industry recommendations urging an increased focus in cardio-obstetrical health.

“Across the country, maternal-fetal medicine physicians have seen more women entering pregnancy with pre-existing conditions, or women developing complications during gestation,” said Dr. Ramaeker. “Causation varies, but primary drivers include national increases in obesity and age at pregnancy, as well as a notable decrease in access to quality prenatal care.”

Recent studies have shown that rates of preeclampsia – high blood pressure during pregnancy – have grown by upward of 30 percent in the last two decades, impacting U.S. maternal mortality outcomes.

As a result of growing rates of cardiovascular conditions among pregnant populations, the American Heart Association issued a statement in 2021 strongly urging women with cardiovascular disease to seek pre-pregnancy counseling and later be monitored, during and after pregnancy, by a specialized cardio-obstetrics team.

“Those eligible for the newly-launched AHN clinic include any patient exhibiting cardiac symptoms during pregnancy, or patients who wish to conceive who have a prior history of cardiovascular disease,” said Dr. Poornima. “That history might include congenital heart conditions, arrhythmias, or chronic hypertension, among other diagnoses. Once referred, we work as a multidisciplinary care team to help patients along their pregnancy journey and minimize their level of risk as much as possible.”

Cardiologists, maternal-fetal medicine specialists, geneticists, nutritionists, nurses and pharmacists currently comprise the AHN Cardio-Obstetrics clinic and work together to develop a comprehensive approach for managing cardiovascular disease prior to and during pregnancy, during labor and delivery, and throughout the postpartum period.

Patients can expect to work closely with care teams to design and implement a purposeful care pathway to best manage their condition, treat ongoing symptoms, and be closely monitored through the gestational period. Treatment plans will vary, but may include precise medication management, blood pressure management, electrocardiograms, echocardiograms, and prescribed lifestyle modifications.

Maternal mortality rates in the United States continue to rise with Black populations experiencing more than double the number of fatal births compared to white populations with 55.3 in Black pregnant patients versus 17.2 deaths in white pregnant patients, respectively, per every 100,000, according to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention.

In December 2021, AHN announced the First Steps and Beyond program which works to see that all babies born in Allegheny County will celebrate their first birthday by working to reduce Black infant mortality, eliminate preventable sleep-related deaths for infants and mobilize resources for new mothers during their fourth trimester.

For more information on the AHN Cardio-Obstetrics clinic or to make an appointment, call 412-682-2100 and select option “0.”


About the Allegheny Health Network:
Allegheny Health Network (AHN.org) is an integrated healthcare delivery system serving the greater Western Pennsylvania region. The Network is composed of 14 hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, Health + Wellness Pavilions, multiple employed physician organizations, home and community based health services, a research institute, and a group purchasing organization. The Network provides patients with access to a complete spectrum of advanced medical services, including nationally recognized programs for primary and emergency care, trauma care, cardiovascular disease, organ transplantation, cancer care, orthopedic surgery, neurology and neurosurgery, women’s health, diabetes, autoimmune disease and more. AHN employs approximately 22,000 people, has more than 2,600 physicians on its medical staff and serves as a clinical campus for Drexel University College of Medicine and the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine.

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Nikki Buccina
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