Chandana Seri was 20 weeks pregnant when she received shocking news: An untreated heart defect could potentially put her life at risk—unless she ended her pregnancy.
Chandana was born with aortic stenosis, a narrowing of the aortic valve. The condition obstructs blood flow from the heart into the aorta, meaning Chandana’s heart had to work harder to pump blood to the rest of her body. During pregnancy, a mother produces twice the volume of blood. Under that extra stress, a defective aortic valve can cause other life-threatening complications.
“We both were very scared when we heard that diagnosis,” said Chandana’s husband, Raghu.
Last year, Chandana was referred to University of Minnesota Health Heart Care Cardiologist Kimara March, MD. Thanks to careful monitoring and care, Chandana and Raghu are now the proud parents of a healthy 6-month-old girl.
“Women with congenital heart defects can face a lot of complications during pregnancy,” March said. “Thankfully, we’re often able to help these women through pregnancies by watching very carefully for any signs or symptoms of potential problems.”
March met the Seris in 2016 after another doctor, concerned for the welfare of Chandana and her child, sent them to March, who specializes in care for adult patients with congenital heart defects. University of Minnesota Health is the only health system in Minneapolis and St. Paul with a team of board-certified adult congenital cardiologists.
March began working with Chandana and quickly decided that Chandana’s life and the life of her unborn daughter were not in jeopardy as long as the care team diligently observed their progress during the pregnancy.
“She did well enough that we didn’t have to consider other preventive measures—like a balloon valvuloplasty, a procedure that widens the heart valve to allow for increased blood flow,” March said. “That’s why her frequent check-ups were so important, because we needed to keep monitoring to see if she was going to need additional care.”
Chandana and Raghu are grateful for the watchful care they received.
“We are so thankful to Dr. March and her team for helping us bring our daughter into the world safely,” Raghu said.
March wants women with congenital heart defects or other heart issues—and families, in general—to know that care is available. Women diagnosed with a congenital heart defect who are considering pregnancy should think about meeting with an experienced cardiologist to discuss potential complications and care options, March said.
“I just want people to be aware that this kind of care is available for them. We can help them get through their pregnancy safely.”