FRIDAY, March 21, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Cardiac arrest in
women during childbirth is rare, but it may be twice as common as
previously believed, a new study suggests.
Factors that can cause a woman's heart to stop beating during
childbirth include a severe form of high blood pressure called
preeclampsia, excessive bleeding, heart failure or heart attack,
blood infection and the entry of amniotic fluid into the mother's
bloodstream (amniotic fluid embolism).
Researchers analyzed data from more than 56 million births in
the United States, and found that more than one in 12,000 women had
a cardiac arrest while they were in hospital for childbirth.
Those who had cardiac arrests were more likely to be older,
black or to be covered by Medicaid, according to the study in the
April issue of the journal
The main causes of cardiac arrest were bleeding (nearly 45
percent), heart failure (13 percent), amniotic fluid embolism (13
percent) and blood infection (11 percent), the investigators
The researchers also reported that CPR was often successful in
cases of cardiac arrest during childbirth, and that the survival
rate rose from 52 percent in 1998 to 60 percent in 2011.
"These are rare high-stakes events on obstetric units, and team
preparation is critical to ensure that everyone is ready to act
quickly and effectively," study author Dr. Jill Mhyre, an associate
professor of anesthesiology at the University of Arkansas for
Medical Sciences, said in a journal news release.
"Fortunately, physician anesthesiologists are experts in leading
resuscitation teams for maternal cardiac arrest and other
emergencies that happen on the labor floor," she added.
The American Heart Association has more about