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Understanding Preeclampsia and Other Blood Pressure Disorders

Understanding Preeclampsia and Other Blood Pressure Disorders

Jun 27, 2023

Pregnancy is an exciting, joyful time as you prepare for your little one. But unexpected complications can happen that range in severity. Preeclampsia, for example, is a complication of pregnancy that affects 8 percent of deliveries worldwide. With this condition, you may develop high blood pressure and high levels of protein in your urine that may indicate kidney damage. This condition can be very dangerous for the expecting parent and baby without the proper understanding of potential risks and the necessary follow-up care. 

Risks factors for preeclampsia

You have an increased chance of developing preeclampsia if you are:

  • A teenager or over 40 years old
  • African American
  • Pregnant for the first time
  • Pregnant less than two years apart or more than 10 years apart
  • Pregnant with a new partner 
  • Predisposed to high blood pressure before pregnancy
  • Someone with a history or family history of preeclampsia
  • Pregnant via in vitro fertilization (IVF)
  • Diabetic, have kidney disease, lupus or rheumatoid arthritis

Complications of preeclampsia

“Preeclampsia can keep your placenta from getting enough blood, which can cause fetal growth restriction (where your baby is born very small),” said Dr. David Vettori, D.O., Penn Maternal Fetal Medicine specialist and Medical Director of Inspira’s Maternal Fetal Medicine Division. “It’s also one of the most common causes of premature births, and possible complications include learning disabilities, epilepsy, cerebral palsy and hearing and vision problems.” 

Preeclampsia can cause rare but serious complications for the birthing parent, such as stroke, seizure, fluid buildup in the chest, heart failure, reversible blindness, bleeding from the liver and heavy bleeding after giving birth.

The importance of regular checkups

At each prenatal care visit, your health care provider checks on you and your growing baby—including whether or not you may be at risk for preeclampsia. 

“Even if you feel well, make sure to schedule and attend all prenatal checkups,” said Dr. Vettori. “These visits not only track the progress and health of your pregnancy but also allow patients to ask questions and prepare for what is to come.” 

When to induce early labor

Preeclampsia can only be cured through delivery. If your pregnancy is at least 34 weeks along, your doctor may recommend you have your baby as soon as your condition is stable, either by inducing labor or by cesarean delivery (C-section). If you're not yet 34 weeks pregnant and you and your baby are stable, you may be able to wait until closer to your due date.

Inspira Health offers specialized care for high-risk pregnancies through its partnership with Penn Medicine’s Maternal Fetal Medicine (MFM) team. With locations in Vineland and Mullica Hill, patients have access to board certified, fellowship-trained physicians who specialize in advanced prenatal monitoring, diagnosis and treatment.  Learn more about Inspira’s Maternal-Fetal Medicine services. 

Inspira Health is a high reliability organization (HRO), which means safety is the top priority for patients and staff. To make an appointment, call 1-800-INSPIRA.

Topics: Maternity, Diabetes, Obstetrics & Gynecology