Your Guide to Understanding Preeclampsia

When you’re expecting a baby, it can be an exciting chapter with lots of hopes and dreams for your future child. I understand my patients have a lot of questions about conditions that may arise during pregnancy. I created this blog to provide a reliable resource for women who are pregnant or thinking about conceiving.

Today, I want to address questions many of my patients have about Preeclampsia. You may have heard the term or heard the stories of celebrities such as Beyoncé who have shared their experiences publicly. This condition can send your blood pressure skyrocketing and includes symptoms such as headache, abdominal pain, swelling, and blurred vision.

As a high-risk specialist it’s important for me to educate my patients about the warning signs and stay up to date with the latest research helping us diagnose and manage Preeclampsia to ensure that you and your baby are healthy.

While a diagnosis of Preeclampsia can be concerning, with the right care and monitoring it is more than possible to have a healthy baby. As a Ft. Lauderdale pregnancy specialist, my goal is to help women recognize the early signs of preeclampsia, which has historically been referred to as toxemia, so that together we can take the proper course of action for a healthy delivery.

I get a lot of questions about Preeclampsia and below I have outlined several key facts about the condition. It’s important to note that there is still much research that needs to be done to more accurately assess the cause of Preeclampsia and its connection to short and long-term health risks. If you feel that you are at risk for Preeclampsia or have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact my office for an appointment.

Who is at Risk?

Preeclampsia can occur after the 20th week of pregnancy. Currently there isn’t a specific diagnostic test available for Preeclampsia, which is why it is often difficult to detect. What makes this condition concerning is that many women may not experience or show any symptoms as their blood pressure rises. Symptoms can escalate quickly, therefore it is important to notify your OBGYN  as soon as you develop symptoms . If you’re wondering who is at risk  for developing preeclampsia, women who have diabetes in pregnancy or a history of high blood pressure fall into the risk category. First-time mothers, women of advanced age and women with twins or higher order multiples are also at a higher risk. We are seeing more cases of Preeclampsia in women who are over 40 and women who are obese. Having two or more of these risk factors increases the likelihood of you developing preeclampsia.

 

Reducing the Risks

I know you might be wondering how you can prevent Preeclampsia. For women at risk, the World Health Organization recommends taking a low-dose baby aspirin (81 mg) daily to reduce the risk of preeclampsia.  A healthy diet  and maintaining a healthy weight is recommended during pregnancy. Reducing the amount of salt in your diet and staying adequately hydrated by drinking 6-8 glasses of water a day are some of the small steps you can take to reduce your risk.  

 

Treatment

Once a patient is diagnosed with Preeclampsia , your OBGYN or perinatal specialist will monitor your blood pressure and assess your urine for protein.  Other blood tests can also provide additional information.  As a perinatal specialist, in addition to assessing your blood pressure and urine, I also perform an ultrasound to check on your baby.  The results of the ultrasound evaluations will help us to assess the wellbeing of your baby and determine a plan of care.

The mainstay of treating preeclampsia is to deliver your baby, however sometimes it might just be too early and therefore blood pressure medication is prescribed, and bed rest might be recommended. Additionally, regular assessment of your blood pressure and paying attention to your symptoms are key to monitoring preeclampsia. If your blood pressure is not improving or your symptoms worsen, delivery of your baby may then be required.

There are lots of ongoing research studies seeking to identify how to predict and treat preeclampsia. As a perinatal specialist devoted to providing the best and most up to date care possible, I strive to stay on the forefront of the latest research and technologies in this area. 

Growing awareness and media coverage about Preeclampsia is creating a proactive approach between physicians and patients. It’s important to have regular prenatal visits and visit a perinatal specialist like myself if you meet any of the risk factors. If Preeclampsia is recognized early, there is a greater chance of healthier outcome for mother and baby.

Schedule an appointment with me at Signature Perinatal Center and I can help you make an informed decision about what’s best for you and your baby.

If you found this article helpful be sure to check back here for future blogs and follow me on Facebook and Instagram for even more helpful pregnancy tips and information!
Author
Sasha Davidson, MD

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