Use of low molecular weight heparin in pregnant women with mechanical heart valves

Am J Cardiol. 2009 Nov 1;104(9):1259-63. doi: 10.1016/j.amjcard.2009.06.040. Epub 2009 Sep 16.


There are a number of different anticoagulation options for pregnant women with mechanical heart valves. The purpose of this study was to examine maternal thromboembolic complications in women with mechanical valves treated with low-molecular weight heparin (LMWH) throughout pregnancy. This was a substudy of a larger prospective cohort study of pregnant women with heart disease followed from 1998 to 2008. All pregnant women with mechanical left-sided valves who were treated with LMWH throughout pregnancy were included. Maternal thromboembolic events were defined as valve thrombosis, need for valve replacement, or stroke during pregnancy or postpartum (up to 6 months). Twenty-three pregnancies (17 women) occurred in women treated with LMWH and low-dose aspirin: 15 in women with mechanical mitral valves, 9 in women with mechanical aortic valves, and 1 in a woman with both. There was 1 maternal thromboembolic event (4%), which resulted in maternal and fetal death. Five women (22%) developed other adverse cardiac events during pregnancy. Nine pregnancies (43%) had fetal or neonatal adverse events, 5 of which had favorable outcomes. Three pregnancies were complicated by postpartum hemorrhage. In conclusion, carefully monitored LMWH may be a suitable anticoagulation strategy in pregnant women with mechanical heart valves who are unwilling to use warfarin. However, this group of women remains at risk for maternal cardiac and fetal complications. The occurrence of valve thrombosis resulting in maternal death despite therapeutic anti-Xa levels highlights current limitations with anticoagulation in this population.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anticoagulants / therapeutic use*
  • Aortic Valve / surgery
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Fetal Death / epidemiology
  • Heart Valve Prosthesis / adverse effects*
  • Heparin, Low-Molecular-Weight / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Mitral Valve / surgery
  • Postpartum Hemorrhage / chemically induced
  • Postpartum Hemorrhage / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Cardiovascular / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy Complications, Cardiovascular / prevention & control*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Stroke / epidemiology
  • Stroke / prevention & control
  • Thromboembolism / epidemiology
  • Thromboembolism / prevention & control*


  • Anticoagulants
  • Heparin, Low-Molecular-Weight