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Obstet Gynecol. 2017 May;129(5):819-826. doi: 10.1097/AOG.0000000000001981.

Maternal Cardiovascular Mortality in Illinois, 2002-2011.

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Division of Cardiology, Department of Medicine, and the Center for Research on Women and Gender, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois.



To describe the demographic characteristics of women in Illinois who died from cardiovascular disease during pregnancy or up until 1 year postpartum, addressing specific etiologies, timing of death, proportion of potentially preventable mortality, and factors associated with preventability.


This is a retrospective analysis from the Illinois Department of Public Health Maternal Mortality Review process using International Classification of Diseases, 9th Revision codes that attributed cardiovascular disease as the immediate or underlying cause of maternal death in Illinois from 2002 to 2011. We categorized the etiology of cardiovascular mortality, analyzed demographic factors associated with cardiovascular mortality in comparison with noncardiovascular causes, defined the relationship to pregnancy, and identified factors associated with preventability.


There were 636 deaths in Illinois from 2002 to 2011 of pregnant women or within 1 year postpartum. One hundred forty women (22.2%) died of cardiovascular causes, for a cardiovascular mortality rate of 8.2 (95% confidence interval 6.9-9.6) per 100,000 live births. Women with cardiovascular mortality were likely to be older and die postpartum. The most common etiologies were related to acquired cardiovascular disease (97.1%) as compared with congenital heart disease (2.9%). Cardiomyopathy was the most common etiology (n=39 [27.9%]), followed by stroke (n=32 [22.9%]), hypertensive disorders (n=18 [12.9%]), arrhythmias (n=15 [10.7%]), and coronary disease (n=13 [9.3%]). Nearly 75% of cardiac deaths were related to pregnancy as compared with 35.3% of noncardiac deaths. More than one fourth of cardiac deaths (28.1%) were potentially preventable, attributable primarily to health care provider and patient factors.


From 2002 to 2011, more than one fifth of maternal deaths in Illinois were attributed to cardiovascular disease such as cardiomyopathy. More than one fourth of these deaths were potentially preventable. Health care provider and patient factors were identified, which may be modifiable through education and intensive postpartum monitoring, which may diminish mortality. State maternal mortality reviews can identify opportunities for reducing maternal deaths.

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