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Online Experts Provide Answers to Complex Preeclampsia Questions

Last Updated on Friday, January 11, 2013

The "Ask the Experts" section of the Preeclampsia Foundation's Community Forum has 318 questions answered by members of our medical board - top researchers and clinicians in hypertensive pregnancies.

Readers often visit this section, not for definitive answers to any one particular question, but to provide spark ideas about other topics or terms to search, and especially new questions to ask your doctor. The Experts answer anonymously and do not give medical advice on any specific case, but they do contribute to the ongoing discussion of preeclampsia-related topics. Information in the older links may not always reflect current understanding of the disease or today's management practices.

Here are Forum Director Heather Curtis' top 5 tips for using our free service, "Ask the Experts":

1. Read the topic "headlines" for the questions that have been asked. When I first started reading I would just browse and read through the links that looked interesting, that were similar to questions I had in my own pregnancies, or that brought up concerns for me for future pregnancies. For example, Current thinking on low-dose aspirin? and Surrogacy and preeclampsia.

2. See if your question is a Frequently Asked Question (FAQ), first topic in the list. That's a rich repository of solid answers that may meet your need without looking at some of the other more unusual topics.

3. Look at the number of replies. Most topics have only one reply - and often only one is needed. But I always enjoy the topics with more than one reply, to see how the experts agree or disagree, who is able to write most clearly, who touches on the more complicated aspects of the disease and treatment, and who tries to make their answer the most clear while glossing over the complicated variations. It's like watching a live political debate! Topics that have 7+ responses are common questions with often contested answers. These situations allow the Experts to share their opinions and data, rather than depend on individual experiences with doctors who may not be aware of the most current research and clinical practices.

For example, many doctors still prescribe lovenox/heparin, but the Experts' opinions range from guarded acceptance in only certain cases, to limited hope that it will make a difference, to one Expert who noted that for current clinical use "Any suggested benefit will be based on junk science and dogma."

4. Search using keywords other than just "high blood pressure" or "proteinuria." I've found interesting information using "superimposed" preeclampsia, and "unmasked" chronic hypertension. Sometimes I remember keywords from previous browsing sessions. Often silly words like "Wyoming" or "flight" or "full deal" will get me to the answer I remember more quickly than a more common term.

5. Search using keywords from Forum questions. New questions in "Ask the Experienced" or other areas of the forum will make me remember an "Ask the Expert" response or will spark my interest to start new searches. A recent question made me think of "kidneys" as a keyword. The search returned 22 options. I read them all to get an overview and to find commonalities in the answers such as terms and information. I then drilled down to figure out what keywords to search next.

Searching on "kidneys" demonstrates why an oft-repeated myth can be dangerous. Many women report that their protenuria decreases while on bedrest. This link explains why and cautions against false reassurance. Searching on "kidneys" also gave me links to share with women who have been afraid of lasting kidney damage from preeclampsia.

Finally, the Experts volunteer their time so we have a "gatekeeper" system to keep the same questions from being asked repeatedly. In those cases, we answer frequently asked questions with consolidated information previously provided by the Experts. You can also ask your question in the "Ask the Experienced" section of the forum and your fellow survivors will share what they have read and experienced.

How have you used the "Ask the Experts" archives? What have you learned from reading their responses? What are your favorite links?

Visit the Community Forum (www.preeclampsia.org/forum) to access a wealth of history and information about preeclampsia from our experienced experts and patient moderators.

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