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Preeclampsia develops during pregnancy and causes persistent high blood pressure, high levels of protein in urine that indicate kidney damage (proteinuria), or other signs of organ damage. Preeclampsia usually begins after 20 weeks of pregnancy in women whose blood pressure had previously been in the standard range. The condition occurs in about 5% to 8% of all pregnancies.
During pregnancy, the heart has to work harder due to increased blood volume. This can cause heart disease to develop, or it can reveal heart disease that had not been diagnosed before. Women with certain conditions such as obesity and diabetes are also at increased risk for developing heart issues during pregnancy.
Blood pressure returns to normal in most people after delivery of the baby, but preeclampsia survivors are at an increased risk for other heart diseases for the rest of their lives.
At the Norton Heart & Vascular Institute Women’s Heart Program, we offer highly specialized cardio-obstetrics care before, during and after pregnancy. Our multidisciplinary team of specialists works together to deliver the highest levels of care for mother and baby.
Studies show the long-term effects of preeclampsia include an increase in future diagnoses of heart disease, heart failure and an increased risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, and death from coronary heart or cardiovascular disease.
After pregnancy with preeclampsia, you also may be at risk for:
Hypertension: Studies show your risk for high blood pressure is three to four times greater, compared with women who had no preeclampsia. High blood pressure for women is any number greater than 140 over 90 millimeters of mercury (mmHg), a measurement of pressure.
Stroke: A stroke is when the blood supply to the brain is cut off for a period of time. After pregnancy with preeclampsia, people have double risk of stroke.
Heart disease: Preeclampsia survivors have two times the risk of coronary heart disease, including congestive heart failure and cardiomyopathy.
You can decrease your risk for heart disease after preeclampsia and protect your heart by:
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