Fainting during pregnancy

By on May 6, 2015

“I’m 32 years old and gave birth last year.  During my first trimester here in Tokyo, I fainted twice and was unconscious for a few seconds.  Later, I was examined and found out that I had low blood pressure.  My doctor said it was a “Jiritsu shinkei” issue (autonomic nervous system). But because of my poor Japanese, I didn’t really quite understand what it meant.  I was however advised to drink more water which I did and it hasn’t recurred since.  
I’m now planning to sign up for post partum exercises at a gym.  I’m somehow a bit worried that whenever I exercise, my face and neck flush and stay red for a long time.  Does this have any connection to low blood pressure?  If so, is it safe for me to do exercises?”   

It is likely that you indeed had low blood pressure which may have gotten even lower due to the effects of your pregnancy, causing the fainting episodes. “Vaso-vagal syncope” is also a common phenomenon that can occur seemingly randomly whether one is pregnant or not. This is related to functioning of the autonomic nervous system, and may be what the doctor was trying to explain. Mild dehydration or anemia may have also been a contributing factor. 

It is unlikely, however,  that the flushing you now have after exercise is from low blood pressure. There are several possible causes including high blood pressure and general deconditioning. If you have been previously healthy and do not take any medications, gradually getting back to physical activity should not be a problem, but I would recommend that you see your doctor for a general evaluation including a blood pressure check, a listen to your heart and lungs and possibly some tests, if indicated, prior to resuming vigorous exercise.

About Dr. Joe Kurosu

Joe Kurosu, M.D., is director of Primary Care Tokyo, a solo practice in Shimokitazawa, Tokyo. He is an American graduate of Yale Medical School and licensed in Japan and the United States. His clinic provides a range of primary care services for the pediatric and adult patient, including immunizations, check-ups, acute & chronic disease management, and minor surgical procedures. Dr. Kurosu has experience in caring for both the expatriate and local communities in Japanese or English. Japanese National Health Insurance is accepted. www.pctclinic.com 
Tel 03-5432-7177.