The Impact of Mental Health on Pregnancy and Sudden Cardiac Arrest in Women

Every year, approximately 350,000 people experience sudden cardiac arrest outside of a hospital, with almost 90 percent of cases resulting in fatality. Surprisingly, 40 percent of these incidents involve women. While sudden cardiac arrest may be associated with heart disease in men and women, the symptoms and risks can vary.

Nancy Dagefoerde, an advanced practice nurse at OSF HealthCare Cardiovascular Institute, explains that sudden cardiac arrest can occur in any adult, particularly those aged 30 and older. Factors such as risk factors, family history, and heart defects can contribute to the likelihood of experiencing sudden cardiac arrest. This condition results from an irregular heartbeat or loss of electrical activity in the heart, leading to a lack of breathing and pulse in the affected individual.

Dagefoerde distinguishes between sudden cardiac arrest and a heart attack, clarifying that a heart attack results from a blockage in the coronary artery surrounding the heart. While there is still stigma surrounding mental health issues like depression and anxiety, more people are seeking treatment for such conditions every day.

For women considering pregnancy, concerns may arise about continuing medications like Zoloft or Prozac. Sarah Shoemaker, a certified nurse midwife at OSF HealthCare advises women to discuss these concerns with their healthcare provider early on before becoming pregnant. Shoemaker emphasizes the importance of maintaining stability and health for women who have found the right combination of medications to treat their mental health conditions while avoiding disruption to this regimen whenever possible.

In the event that a medication change is necessary due to pregnancy or other circumstances, providers may recommend supplements or lifestyle changes to address specific needs while considering individual circumstances. The decision-making process involves weighing potential benefits versus risks for each patient’s well-being.

It’s important for everyone to be aware of the warning signs of sudden cardiac arrest and seek medical attention immediately if they suspect something is wrong.

By Sophia Gonzalez

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