The problem of cardiac valve prostheses, anticoagulants, and pregnancy

E. Salazar, A. Zajarias, N. Gutierrez, I. Iturbe

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120 Scopus citations


To assess the maternal and fetal risks in patients with cardiac valve prostheses, a series of 223 pregnancies in 156 women was studied. In 68 pregnancies (group I) treatment with antiplatelet agents was substituted for that with coumarinics from the first trimester on. Group II (128 pregnancies) received coumarinics through the thirty-eighth week of gestation. Three patients in group I died as a result of thrombosis of their caged-ball valves. The incidence of cerebral embolism was 25.0% in group I and 2.3% in group II patients, while that of spontaneous abortion was 10.3% and 28.1%, respectively. Coumarin embryopathy was found in 7.9% of group II infants. Fetal death did not occur in the 12 cases in which subcutaneous heparin was substituted for the coumarin derivative in the first trimester and the last 2 weeks of pregnancy (group III), but maternal cerebral embolism developed in 8.3% of the patients. Finally, uneventful pregnancies and deliveries were observed in 12 of 15 mothers (group IV) with biological prostheses who received no anticoagulants. It is concluded that (1) women with cardiac valve prostheses should be counseled against becoming pregnant, (2) antiplatelet agents do not provide protection against thromboembolism in these patients, (3) because of the high incidence of fetal death and birth defects use of coumarinics is contraindicated in the first trimester and the last weeks of pregnancy, (4) the substitution of heparin at these times may decrease the incidence of these complications, and (5) bioprostheses are indicated in women who wish to bear children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)I/169-I/177
Issue number3 II
StatePublished - Jan 1 1984


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