Preeclampsia is a scary thing for pregnant women to deal with. It is characterized by an increase in blood pressure in pregnant women and there is often high amount of protein in the urine, although this is not always the case.
Typically preeclampsia begins to surface around the 20th week of pregnancy and it affects about 6 to 8 percent of women in the United States each year. There are many risk factors that come along with preeclampsia, such as damage being done to the mother’s kidneys and other organs.
There is not a single test that will confirm that a pregnant woman has preeclampsia, but there are some previous risk factors that may cause it. Women who have a history of lupus, scleroderma, diabetes, kidney disease and rheumatoid arthritis are at a greater risk of developing preeclampsia while they are pregnant.
If you already suffer from high blood pressure and are considering becoming pregnant, it is important to talk to your doctor about ways that you can keep your blood pressure at a normal level while you are pregnant.
Preeclampsia is very complex and is characterized by blood pressure in excess of 140/90. At times excess protein is found in the urine and there may be swelling or edema in the lower extremities. Although the precise cause of preeclampsia remains unknown, there are certain risk factors that are thought to cause it.
About 8% of pregnant women develop preeclampsia worldwide and while that number drops to 4% in the US, it is still a major issue. 12% of maternal deaths are caused from preeclampsia as are 15% of premature births. Prior history of elevated blood pressure and other auto-immune diseases are all believed to raise a woman’s risk of developing preeclampsia, so it is important to discuss any medical conditions with your doctor when you become pregnant.
According to a recent panel of experts from the United States Preventative Task Force or USPTF, there is now a suggested method for women who are at risk of developing preeclampsia. Beginning after 12 weeks of pregnancy these women are now encouraged to begin taking a low dose aspirin to help them avoid developing preeclampsia while they are pregnant.
This same panel found that women who participated in this study were able to create a reduction of around 24% in their risk of developing preeclampsia. Aspirin was also shown to prevent the development of stunted growth in the fetus around 20% and premature births by 14%. These findings were published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
In patients who have conceived, twins or multiples, a history of preeclampsia with previous pregnancies could mean that you have an increased chance of developing it again. However, research is now showing that aspirin has the ability to reduce this risk.
One study was conducted in 1996, but it was never suggested to women to try this method, because the evidence was uncertain at the time. Since that time, more trials have been completed and the evidence is now clear that it can improve the risk of preeclampsia.
Now, it is being suggested that women who are at a risk of developing preeclampsia take a low dose (81 mg) after they have reached 12 weeks of pregnancy. However, women who have had a history of bleeding gastric ulcers are not advised to take aspirin as are those who have other issues with taking aspirin.
Currently, it is difficult to give a direct reason as to why aspirin appears to be helpful, but there have been multiple studies that have produced the same results. It is always best to talk the medications that you are taking over with your doctor before you begin taking something new.
Your doctor should monitor you closely if you are at a high risk of developing preeclampsia and if you develop any of the symptoms of it, be sure to relay the information to your doctor as quickly as possible. The best way to treat preeclampsia is to begin taking the low dose aspirin as directed by your doctor and to try to maintain a lower blood pressure throughout your pregnancy.