Semin Respir Crit Care Med 1998; 19(3): 201-208
DOI: 10.1055/s-2007-1009398
Copyright © 1998 by Thieme Medical Publishers, Inc.

Alterations in Cardiopulmonary Physiology During Pregnancy

Stephen E. Lapinsky
  • Department of Medicine, Mount Sinai Hospital, and University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
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Publication History

Publication Date:
20 March 2008 (online)


Pregnancy is associated with significant cardiorespiratory physiological changes that impact the assessment and management of respiratory disease in these patients. Structural changes to the chest wall affect lung volumes, most notable being through a reduction in the functional residual capacity. More significant are hormonally mediated functional changes that produce an increased minute ventilation and a compensated respiratory alkalosis. Cardiac function changes dramatically as pregnancy progresses, with an increase in circulating blood volume and a marked increase cardiac output. Associated with these are structural cardiac changes, including an increase in left ventricular mass. This article reviews the effects of pregnancy on maternal physiology and highlights some clinical implications of these changes.