Cardio-Obstetric Programs Reduce Socioeconomic Disparities in Pregnancies

by Micaela Harris
September 21, 2022

Recent studies have shown that that there are several factors that can increase heart complications during pregnancy, such as advanced maternal age, obesity, diabetes, and hypertension. In addition, there is growing evidence of racial and socioeconomic disadvantages for pregnant women. To investigate the relationship between heart complications and health disparities during pregnancy, a research team led by Abha Khandelwal, MD, MS conducted a study to examine the effects of living in lower income versus higher income neighborhoods on heart health during pregnancy, and also whether cardio-obstetric specific programs help reduce these negative cardiovascular outcomes.

The investigators collected data from Stanford University’s cardio-obstetrics program where pregnant women with heart disease were being treated. Data from a total of 206 pregnancies were included in the study. Patients self-reported racial and ethnic categories and patient cardiac conditions were divided into five groups. Patient neighborhoods were categorized as low or high income based on their self-reported 5-digit zip codes using the 2018 American Community survey.

The graph depicts a higher rate of antepartum hospitalizations in lower income households. Please refer to the full article to view more outcomes.

The investigators found that although there were no differences in cardiac events, patients living in lower income neighborhoods had higher rates of antepartum hospital admissions. Their results were recently published in Reproductive Sciences. This suggests that Cardio-Obstetric programs could play a role by helping alleviate socioeconomic disparities by providing early and close monitoring of pregnant women with higher risk of cardiovascular complications.

Future studies can expand on this work with a larger and more diverse populations and identify which neighborhoods already have access to Cardio-Obstetric programs to determine their effectiveness.

Additional Stanford Cardiovascular Institute-affiliated investigators who contributed to this study include: Stephanie A. Leonard, PhD; Eleanor Levin, MD; Jennifer A. Tremmel, MD; Sandra Tsai, MD; Paul A. Heidenreich, MD; and Katherine Bianco, MD.

Abha Khandelwal, MD, MS