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May’s Preeclampsia Awareness Month focuses on health "Beyond Pregnancy"

April 30, 2021 - Melbourne, FL – Preeclampsia, a hypertensive disorder of pregnancy, is a leading cause of premature birth and a major contributor to adverse maternal outcomes and maternal death. For the preeclampsia survivor, the health risks do not end with their pregnancy.

The Preeclampsia Foundation, a patient advocacy organization, have been educating women on preeclampsia’s sign and symptoms during pregnancy and making them aware that they are “still at risk” for postpartum preeclampsia following their baby’s delivery.  Now, they want to prepare women for their long-term health risks and empower them with specific actionable steps.

Established in 2000, the Preeclampsia Foundation educates patients and providers about hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, works with health care providers to implement best practices in the care and treatment of patients, advocates for adoption of best practices, access to care, and equitable treatment and participate in and fund research to find a cause and a cure. In 2013, they created The Preeclampsia Registry which now has 7,000 participants and has fueled dozens of research studies. It was through the registry that an important study was published in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation outlining a genetic link between preeclampsia and heart disease.

Long-term impact. After a pregnancy complicated by preeclampsia, women have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and related mortality. In 2011, the American Heart Association formally recognized preeclampsia as a clinical risk factor for CVD in women.  Given the risk for future heart disease, as well as its potential impact to a preeclampsia survivor’s kidneys, brain health, and overall psychological well-being, the Foundation’s recommendation is to educate yourself and partner with your provider to develop your personalized health plan.

"As a survivor, I know how frightening this can be, both during pregnancy and to hear that you have a long-term risk factor," says Eleni Tsigas, CEO and two-time preeclampsia survivor. "Preeclampsia took my family and I completely by surprise with the devastating outcome of losing my infant daughter, and almost losing me. The continuing impact of that incident on my emotional and physical health did not end in 1998."

This year's campaign focuses not just on repeating that preeclampsia survivors have a risk but recognizing its emotional impact and educating and empowering the community on what they can do to be their own best advocate beyond pregnancy.

“Knowing that I am at higher risk for future complications,” Tsigas adds, “I choose to be educated and do everything possible to mitigate that risk. It’s never too late to change your future.”

In conjunction with the International Society of the Study of Hypertensive Disorders of Pregnancy (ISSHP), the Foundation has created a downloadable tool called "My Health Plan Beyond Pregnancy" to use with your provider and strongly encourage survivors to create a personalized health plan to mitigate their risk.

Throughout the month, survivors are encouraged to follow #beyondpregnancy and #preeclampsia and participate in social media events that include Ask the Experts, a Facebook Live event with leading physician experts answering patients’ questions, a birth trauma webinar, a series of online sessions with organizations who specialize in cardiac care for women and other patient centered programs. Additional patient and provider education resources and details on above events are available www.preeclampsia.org/beyondpregnancy.

Tsigas adds, “Our work will always be to find a cause and a cure.  In the meantime, our greatest tool is education.”

About the Preeclampsia Foundation

Preeclampsia Foundation is a U.S.-based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization established in 2000 to improve the outcomes of hypertensive disorders of pregnancy by educating, supporting, and engaging the community, improving healthcare practices, and finding a cure. We envision a world where preeclampsia and related hypertensive disorders of pregnancy no longer threaten the lives of mothers and babies. Visit www.preeclampsia.org.

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It is our collective voice that reduces isolation for others, raises awareness and improves healthcare practices. Let's raise up our voices so more women know about preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome and less women have adverse outcomes!

 

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