If you're a new mom, your own heart health may be the furthest thing from your mind, but if you're a preeclampsia survivor, it's something you and your physician should discuss. Why? Because research has shown that preeclampsia, along with a few other pregnancy complications such as fetal growth restriction and preterm birth, may predict your future heart disease.
Studies have found the following associations between pregnancy complications and cardiovascular disease:
- A history of preeclampsia increases future risks of high blood pressure, heart attacks, stroke, blood clots, and kidney disease.
- Women who have repeat or severe preeclampsia, or preeclampsia accompanied by still birth are at greater risk of cardiovascular disease than women who have high blood pressure only and during a single pregnancy.
- Women who had growth restricted babies or who delivered preterm were found to have higher blood pressure 18 years after ...
A nurse from the University of Illinois Medical Center asked the Preeclampsia Foundation, "What do you think we, as nurses, could do to support patients when they are in a situation (preeclamptic pregnancy) similar to yours?"
We wondered aloud and nearly three dozen survivors responded via Facebook and our online Community Forum to share their experiences and provide their suggestions to the nursing profession. While there was very vocal appreciation for the majority of nurses who have cared for our women, there were also many helpful suggestions. Based on patient input, here are:
Top 10 Ways Nurses Can Support Preeclampsia Patients:
1. Know the symptoms, educate your patients. Know how dangerous preeclampsia can be, know the full breadth of possible symptoms, and be proactive about diagnosing and managing it. The Foundation's motto "Know the Symptoms, Trust Yourself" is targeted at pregnant women, but as healthcare ...
Encore Public Relations was named a Bronze Stevie Winner in the PR Campaign of the Year/Community Relations category in the 9th annual Stevie® Awards for Women in Business on November 9 for their work with the Preeclampsia Foundation. Encore Public Relations lead strategy efforts and execution for a multi-platform campaign that raised awareness during the 2012 annual Promise Walks for Preeclampsia across the country.
"Ironically, it was during this same weekend last year when we had the good fortune to meet Laurie and Elaine in New York City," said Eleni Tsigas, Preeclampsia Foundation's executive director. "The women were in town for another honor they were receiving and via wonderful circumstances, we were brought together at Saving Grace, our annual benefit gala."
Laura Archbold, principal of Encore Public Relations, upon receiving their award, said. "We humbly accept this honor on ...
Posted in Volunteer Happenings on December 05, 2012 by Administrator
What was your experience with preeclampsia?
On February 17th, 2005 I was so blessed to become a mom to a beautiful, blue-eyed, baby boy. Roddick was born 2 weeks early, by emergency c-section, due to my blood pressure staying elevated, even with bed rest. My husband was out of town for work, so he missed the birth of his 1st child. It was crazy, nurses and doctors running around trying to get me into surgery and deliver my son. Much of the delivery was a blur. They had me on and off mag sulfate to control my bp. I felt so awful, I kept thinking that this surely couldn't be what it felt like to be a new mom. I felt so bad that I didn't even have the warmth and compassion I ...
Posted in Health Information on December 05, 2012 by Administrator
By Dr. Anne Wallis ~ Who remembers the first season ER episode "Love's Labours Lost"? The answer: pretty much anyone who ever watched ER! In the episode, a pregnant woman presents to the emergency room with a complaint of bladder problems, has a seizure and later dies. This was my first exposure to the hypertensive disorders of pregnancy. Eclampsia is, thankfully, rare, but it carries a high case fatality rate for the mother and/or the infant. Gestational hypertension and preeclampsia are far more common, affecting between 5% and 8% of all pregnancies in the US. Moreover, these conditions are on the rise and globally, these conditions are a leading cause of maternal and infant illness and death.
Obstetric providers are acutely aware of the dangers of preeclampsia because of its potential severity and rapidity of onset and progression, making high-quality prenatal ...
Preeclampsia Foundation volunteers in different parts of the country have been taking advantage of Perinatal Outreach Educator Networks to disseminate information about the Preeclampsia Foundation and advocate for more patient education.
An unexpected outcome from one of these discussions came from Maripat Zeschke, RNC-EFM, MSN, LC who is the Perinatal Network Administrator at the University of Illinois Administrative Perinatal Center. She asked a simple, but powerful, question of the preeclampsia survivors who were presenting: "What do you think we, as nurses, could do to support patients when they are in a situation similar to yours?"
Zeschke said that her question "comes from a long history of being committed to patients. Nursing is the perfect blend of art and science, and being at the bedside is the essence of the art. I've seen so many patients with devastating preeclamptic stories, and I think it's amazing when survivors can relive it on a regular ...
By Dr. Linda Burke-Galloway ~ October is Patient Centric Care Month, a term you will likely see more of as our healthcare system moves further into the 21st century. What does 21st century healthcare look like? It means that all of your records will be computerized and not on paper. It means that you will receive your "chart" on a flash drive so that when if you leave your physician's office and go to a hospital, your health records remain with you. Gone will be the days when your labs will have to be repeated because no one can locate your prenatal chart. Repeating labs is not only annoying, it's costly.
"Patient Centric Care" means that the emphasis will no longer center on your physician. Or a hospital. Or an ambulatory care center. It will be centered on you, the patient. Why? Because at the end of the day, if you're not well, if the outcome was less than expected, then the system has failed. The $2.3 trillion dollars spent each year on healthcare has not ...
Patient-centric care, a buzzword in healthcare reform, should be the obvious goal for any health care system. "What a concept," I utter with a hint of sarcasm. Put the patient at the center of the decisions, resources and desired outcomes?!
However, patient-centric care is also dependent on a related concept: the "empowered patient," a subject CNN medical correspondent and fellow preeclampsia survivor Elizabeth Cohen writes about in her column and book, The Empowered Patient, available in our Marketplace.
An empowered patient is one who has the information she needs to act proactively upon her preeclampsia symptoms. She also has an effective relationship with her care provider(s) so she can communicate her concerns, ask questions, comply knowingly with agreed upon treatments, ...
Posted in Research on August 05, 2012 by Administrator
Every two years, the International Society for the Study of Hypertension in Pregnancy (ISSHP) World Congress brings together the top researchers and clinicians in the field of hypertension in pregnancy to share innovations and encourage collaborations in research and clinical practice. As in year's past, the Preeclampsia Foundation participated in the 2012 meeting held July 9-12 in Geneva, Switzerland.
Like the current Olympics which inspire us to "Citius, Altius, Fortius" (Latin for "faster, higher, stronger"), the World Congress inspires participants to demonstrate new found knowledge and skills, and to push each other forward. In the enthusiasm of science-swapping and networking at a meeting like ISSHP, sometimes the larger purpose of our endeavors - saving lives and improving health outcomes of mothers and babies worldwide - may be forgotten by those racing from one intriguing lecture to the next.
That's where the Preeclampsia Foundation comes in. It is a ...
Posted in Health Information on August 05, 2012 by Administrator
By Quincy Fleming ~ Physical activity is something that my husband and I have always enjoyed, so it is only natural that my children have also gravitated towards endurance sports. It takes a lot of time and creative scheduling to get workouts in, but instead of trying to keep the workouts and family time separate, we find all kinds of crazy ways to include our two children. In fact, my husband and I are currently training for an Iron Distance Triathlon. Why, you might ask?
My children and I are preeclampsia survivors. And while we are lucky to have escaped with our lives, our health, our sanity, I know that we are at a heightened risk for heart disease, diabetes, obesity. It seems every lifestyle disease out there carries an extra punch for us. So we asked ourselves: why not embrace healthy lifestyles and exercise as part of our everyday family time?
Unfortunately, because the life that includes raising small children is demanding and time consuming, ...
Posted in Volunteer Happenings on August 03, 2012 by Administrator
What was your experience with preeclampsia?
I had preeclampsia with both of my pregnancies. With my first child, I was not made aware of the symptoms of this condition, so when I started having side pains, I just thought I had a cramp, nothing serious. I had gained a significant amount of weight, but had no basis of comparison, so I believed it to be just the nature of being pregnant. I went from 115 lbs to 180 lbs and assumed that was normal. I was swollen, short of breath, and generally unhappy. By the time the high blood pressure became a threat, it became significantly high. Because my proteins showed up during a routine visit and at about 28 weeks, I was put on bed rest, and was administered Labetalol to manage my blood pressure. After I gave birth at 35 weeks with my eldest daughter, I was told I had been preeclamptic but that it was "not a big deal." I was reassured it does not necessarily happen with every pregnancy, so I was told, for my next ...
Posted in Heard on the Hill on July 02, 2012 by Administrator
Last week, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as the "health reform law." This means that implementation of this landmark legislation can continue to move forward. However, the law continues to be the subject of debate through this year's presidential and congressional election cycle, and depending on the election results could be altered by Congress and the White House in the future. As it currently stands, the law directly benefits childbearing women and newborns by:
- prohibiting the use of pregnancy as a preexisting condition by health insurance providers;
- widening access to certified nurse-midwives by eliminating inequities in how they are reimbursed under Medicare;
- paying for home visits by nurses for at-risk families during or after ...
That was my goal with the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity I was given to present one of three President's Program lectures at the American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists' Annual Clinical Meeting.
"Patient Perspectives on Preeclampsia" - or as I joked, "lessons from this side of the stirrups" - was well-received by the standing-room-only crowd in the main auditorium of the San Diego Convention Center. More importantly, the many comments I received after the lecture satisfied me that I achieved my objective - to reach their hearts with compelling, real-life stories illustrating the impact preeclampsia has on mothers, fathers, and babies; and to reach their minds by inspiring clinical practice behaviors that include educating each and every expectant mother with non-alarmist, but sound information about the ...
Findings from several studies support the hypothesis that stress caused by a traumatic pregnancy and delivery can often override the ability to emotionally cope, leading to psychiatric complications such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and post-partum depression (PPD). The combination of suffering a serious illness, combined with an unexpected caesarean section, birth of a premature child, or infant loss, is a heavy burden to bear both physically and psychologically.
Preliminary research findings, including a study initiated by the Preeclampsia Foundation, suggest that women who have endured traumatic pregnancies such as severe preeclampsia, eclampsia and HELLP syndrome have a higher incidence of PTSD and PPD than women without these complications. More research is needed to help move this information to clinical practice, but anecdotally enough of our survivors are impacted, that we offer these recommendations based on general trauma recovery practices.
May and Mother's Day are so intertwined that it's hard to think about one without the other, especially here at the Preeclampsia Foundation, where we've built a nationwide campaign at www.promisewalk.org/campaign to get the word out about preeclampsia - the "thing" that for many survivors turned our entrance into motherhood into a nightmare.
I believe celebrating mothers is a commemoration of extremes. Not just because preeclampsia is an extreme condition, but because the mothers I am ...
The October 2011 issue of Expectations (featuring patient-centered care month) highlighted two powerful, silver-screen accounts of parents confronted with the unthinkable: a child's health crisis with no known cure leading doctors to tell them "there is nothing more we can do." Those simple words - and the prospect that there was no hope - prompted these every-day parents to take on the most important "projects" of their lives: saving the lives of their children.
These extreme examples of patient advocacy provide a humbling reminder of how important our own voices - and understanding of our conditions - are in our individual health care (during pregnancy and otherwise).
In thinking about patient advocacy in relation to my own pregnancy, I am ashamed I didn't ask more questions when I was ordered to take my first (and then second!) 24-hour urine test. I didn't know that a 24-hour urine test wasn't routine, and my doctor was certainly not offering up any ...
Posted in Research on March 01, 2012 by Caryn
Is there a nutritional connection to preeclampsia? That idea seems plausible at first, as when the blood samples of women have been analyzed, some researchers have found altered levels of various vitamins and minerals. Furthermore, preeclamptic women have altered patterns of weight gain during pregnancy; and obese women are more likely to develop preeclampsia.
Such considerations may lead one to speculate that certain diets may prevent or reverse the disease, in which case the appropriate diet becomes a therapeutic intervention. However the best research to date suggests this just isn't so.
Posted in Volunteer Happenings on February 04, 2012 by Administrator
Perinatal Outreach Educator Networks (POENs) are generally funded by individual states to provide perinatal (the care offered to a mother and child just before and just after birth) medical education to health care providers in the region, enhancing the quality of care for mothers and infants and reducing morbidity and mortality. Specialists share their experience and knowledge with other physicians and community hospitals across regions by offering or facilitating programs such as physician and nurse consultation services, continuing education for health care professionals, emergency medical transport for referring hospitals within the region, consultation and technical assistance on emerging perinatal issues, and sometimes even lending libraries.
For example, in Illinois, there are 10 perinatal centers designated by the state. Rush Hospital in Chicago is home to the the largest network, involving 18 hospitals delivering more than 30,000 infants. The Rush Perinatal ...
The term “empowered patient” has become overused and often exhausting to embrace. If that sounds completely contrary to what we’ve been espousing at the Preeclampsia Foundation, it’s because over time and in an increasingly complex health care system, for most of us, what is expected of us as “empowered patients” has become too big to manage. So try to keep it simple and doable.
5 Steps to Being “Empowered”
The cornerstones of being an empowered patient, particularly when faced with a complicated pregnancy, include:
1. Knowledge. Access to understandable and accurate health information is essential to empower a woman to participate in her care, and patient-centered organizations take responsibility for providing access to that ...