Question 6

Describe the cardiovascular changes seen throughout pregnancy

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College Answer

It was expected that candidates would give a detailed description of the changes that occur throughout pregnancy, labour and post-delivery (a timeline). This should include but not be limited to, cardiac output, total peripheral resistance, blood flow distribution, uterine blood flow and blood volume changes. Better answers were able to relate these changes to the underlying mechanisms (such as progesterone induced vasodilatation etc). A detailed description of aortocaval compression and its importance was also required. Vague and imprecise statements attracted fewer marks (for example simply stating that heart rate increases without discussing the magnitude, time course and influences). This topic is well covered in some of the recommend texts.