Preeclampsia can lead to serious complications

Melinda Goodson

Pikeville Medical Center (PMC) is observing Preeclampsia Awareness Month during May.


According to the Preeclampsia Foundation, Preeclampsia Awareness Month brings awareness to this life-threatening hypertensive disorder of pregnancy, which occurs in up to eight percent of all pregnancies.


Preeclampsia is a pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure and signs of damage to another organ system, most often the liver and kidneys states Mayo Clinic.


“Preeclampsia, or simply high blood pressure and abnormal swelling during pregnancy, can occur during or after pregnancy,” said PMC OB/GYN Angela Maggard, MD. “This can result in maternal and fetal death, especially if unrecognized. Be aware of your body and your symptoms, be an advocate for yourself and your baby and be proactive whenever possible. ”


If preeclampsia is not treated, it can lead to serious complications for the mother and fetus. This is one of the many reasons it is important for expecting mothers to attend their prenatal appointments.


“High blood pressure may develop slowly, or it may have a sudden onset,” PMC Women’s Services Director Tondra Blevins said. “Monitoring your blood pressure is an important part of prenatal care because the first sign of preeclampsia is commonly a rise in blood pressure greater than 140/90 on two occasions, at least four hours apart. The more severe your preeclampsia, and the earlier it occurs in your pregnancy, the greater the risks for you and your baby. There are several risk factors that increase the risk of developing preeclampsia during the pregnancy, so be sure to keep all prenatal appointments so that your health care provider can closely monitor you and your baby for any problems that may develop.”


Mayo Clinic lists the many signs and symptoms of preeclampsia:


•A rise in blood pressure


•Excess protein in urine or additional signs of kidney problems


•Severe headaches


•Changes in vision


•Upper abdominal pain, usually on the right side


•Nausea or vomiting


•Decreased urine output


•Decreased level of platelets


•Impaired liver functions


•Shortness of breath


“To lower your risk, do not smoke, eat healthy, exercise regularly and maintain a healthy weight at the advice of your health care provider,” Dr. Maggard added. “It is important for women affected by preeclampsia to be counseled that for the remainder of their life they will have an increased risk of high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes and heart disease and to receive counseling and support for the devastating emotional and physical effects of this disease.”


For more information or to schedule an appointment with a PMC physician, call 606-218-2207.