Pregnancy can cause strange heart symptoms

- Your pregnant.  And you feel like your heart is racing.

Is that normal?

WATCH: How you can stay heart-healthy while pregnant

WellStar Kennestone cardiologist Dr. Mindy Gentry says the answer, typically, is yes.

"So very commonly, pregnant women will come in with palpitations, or feeling like their heart is beating fast and hard," Dr. Gentry says.  "And oftentimes that's because it is. Your heart rate is naturally higher during pregnancy.

A woman's blood volume goes up by about 30% to 50% during pregnancy, and her heart rate may increase by 10 to 20 beats a minute, Dr. Gentry says.

But, less than 10% of the time, Dr. Gentry says, hormonal changes that come with pregnancy, can bring on or exacerbate an abnormal heart rhythm. 

"So when people come in complaining of high heart rate or palpitations, we have to decide is that normal, related to the pregnancy, or is it an abnormal rhythm that has been worsened or exacerbated by the pregnancy," Gentry says.

Many women experience a drop in their blood pressure when they're expecting, which can cause dizziness and lightheadedness,

"So, trying to hydrate well, and making sure you stay hydrated is very important, to try to keep that blood pressure from dropping low enough that it causes problems," Gentry says.

Some pregnant women have the opposite problem, hypertension.  Their blood pressure is too high.  That's often known as preeclampsia.

Pregnant woman can also experience a spike in their blood sugar, or gestational diabetes.

"Either of those things does increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease after pregnancy, and really for decades after the pregnancy," says Gentry.  "If you're overweight, or not exercising, that increases the risk significantly."

For that reason, Dr. Gentry says, try to get as healthy as you can and to start exercising before  you start trying to get pregnant. 

Then,  stay active as long as you safely can into your pregnancy.

If something just doesn't feel normal, get it checked out.

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