Posts Tagged ‘blood pressure’

Headache? Nausea? Could be more serious then you thought

Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017

2014d037_1495We receive many questions from expectant moms who are experiencing symptoms such as headaches or swelling. They worry it might be something serious, like preeclampsia.

Preeclampsia is a kind of high blood pressure some women get after the 20th week of pregnancy or after giving birth.  Along with high blood pressure, a pregnant woman can have signs that some of her organs, like her kidneys and liver, may not be working properly.

Signs and symptoms of preeclampsia include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Protein in the urine
  • Severe headaches
  • Changes in vision, like blurriness, flashing lights, seeing spots or being sensitive to light
  • Pain in the upper right belly area or pain in the shoulder
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Sudden weight gain (2 to 5 pounds in a week)
  • Swelling in the legs, hands and face
  • Trouble breathing

Without treatment, preeclampsia can cause serious health problems for both you and your baby. The condition can cause kidney, liver and brain damage for you and premature birth, intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) or low birthweight for your baby.

Many of the signs and symptoms of preeclampsia are just normal discomforts of pregnancy.

So how do you know if your symptoms are a sign of something more serious?

Your health care provider can diagnose preeclampsia by measuring your blood pressure and checking your urine for protein – both of these are routinely checked at every prenatal care visit.

If you are diagnosed with preeclampsia, your provider can help you manage most health complications through regular prenatal care. This is why it’s important to go to every appointment, even if you are feeling fine.

So, to know if your severe headache or sudden swelling is cause for concern, reach out to your health care provider. He can determine if your symptoms are normal pregnancy discomforts or something more serious like preeclampsia.

For more details about this serious condition, visit our website.

 

How my baby and I survived preeclampsia

Friday, May 13th, 2016

For Preeclampsia Awareness Month, we are grateful to one mom for sharing her story with us.

In my fight against preeclampsia, I advocated for myself and my baby and ended up saving both of our lives.

It started at about 22 weeks of pregnancy, when I had trouble with my eyes. I started to step down onto an escalator and realized I couldn’t see where one step stopped and the next started. My doctor reassured me that eye changes were normal.

By 24 weeks, more symptoms popped up. I was very itchy, my ankles were swollen and I had trouble breathing when reclining. The nurse told me that was normal.

By 25 weeks, the symptoms increased. I never had the urge to urinate and when I did, it was orangish brown. My ankles were so swollen that I had to lift up the skin to slide on a pair of shoes that were two sizes too big.

I called the doctor’s office and was told that my appointment was in 9 days and they would see me then. I decided to check my blood pressure on my own so I drove to a local supermarket and checked my blood pressure at the pharmacy. It was 180/120. I was shocked! I took it again and got the same results.

Feeling concerned, I drove to the doctor’s office. Within an hour, I was diagnosed with severe preeclampsia (my protein came back at +5) and I was on my way to the hospital for bedrest. I had a seizure within the hour of being admitted in the hospital when my blood pressure reached 240/180.

Two days later, after my 24 hour urine test came back at +19 and I was showing signs of HELLP Syndrome, I was put on mag sulfate and transferred to a new hospital with a high risk OB and an OB-ICU. More importantly, it was located next door to a hospital with a Level 4 NICU.

Preemie baby due to preeclampsiaUnfortunately, my condition worsened that night and by the next evening I was in liver and kidney failure. An emergency C-section was ordered and my daughter was born a few hours later at just 25 weeks and 5 days. She weighed 1lb, 10 oz and was 13” long.

She went on to spend 90 days in the NICU. She had a PDA ligation, a feeding tube and was vented for a month. She came home on oxygen and with the feeding tube but both were removed within a month of coming home. She is now 14 years old, an 8th grade honors student and a competitive gymnast. She is also an only child.

As for me, I spent another 3 weeks on blood pressure medicine. Ten years later, I was diagnosed with diabetes and required 3 stents in my heart. It was also found that my heart had sustained damage during my pregnancy and was severely underperforming. I went through cardiac rehab and will have to be followed by a cardiologist for the rest of my life. Research shows that women who develop preeclampsia have a much greater risk of heart disease and stroke.

If I have one message to share with all pregnant women, it would be to trust your instincts. If you don’t feel right – go get checked. In my case, it saved both my life and my child’s.

Are you a preeclampsia survivor? We hope you’ll share your story below, to help other moms and babies.

Learn more about the life-long effects of preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome.

Keeping your heart healthy

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

heart-healthDid you know that about 1 out of every 125 infants is born with a congenital heart defect (CHD) each year in the U.S.? CHDs are among the most common birth defects and are the leading cause of birth defect-related infant deaths.

We worry a lot about our babies and their hearts, but do you think enough about your own heart?  Since February is American Heart Month, and pregnancy puts a fair amount of physical stress on a woman, I thought it a good time to mention taking care of your own ticker before you conceive.  Not thinking about pregnancy? You still need to read this. No matter what our age, here are some things each of us can do to help improve our heart health.

Stop smoking – Even if you do smoke, you’ve got to know it’s not good for you.  But did you know smoking may make it harder for you to get pregnant? And if you smoke while you’re pregnant, your baby is at greater risk for being born prematurely or too small?

Have your doc check your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.  If they test high, take steps to bring them down.  Most health care providers want your BP to be at or below 120/80 and total cholesterol to be below 200.

If you have a family history of diabetes, get your blood sugar checked.  Make sure you get into a program to help keep it in control before and during pregnancy.

Eat right – Eat foods from each of the five food groups: fruits, vegetables, proteins (like chicken, fish and dried beans), grains, and milk products. Easy does it on salt and avoid foods high in fat and sugar.

Get to a good weight – If you’re not at your ideal weight (too many holiday treats?) knock off a few pounds, or gain ‘em if you need ‘em.  Exercise regularly and get fit. Exercising for 30 minutes on all or most days of the week is a good way to help maintain or lose weight, build fitness and reduce stress.

Reduce your daily stress – Pregnancy is a stressful time for many women. You may be feeling happy, sad and scared—all at the same time. It’s okay to feel like that, but doing what you can to reduce stress before pregnancy can help you better manage extra stress associated with pregnancy.  And if you’re not considering pregnancy, reducing stress can improve your quality of life in general.  Sounds good to me!

Heart health

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

heart-healthI was reminded today that it is healthy heart month.  Since pregnancy puts a fair amount of physical stress on a woman, I thought it a good time to mention taking care of your ticker before you conceive.  I’m not thinking about having a baby (not at my age!), but it’s a good reminder for me, too.  Here are some things each of us can do to help improve our heart health.

Stop smoking – Even if you do smoke, you’ve got to know it’s not good for you.  But did you know smoking may make it harder for you to get pregnant? And if you smoke while you’re pregnant, your baby is at greater risk for being born prematurely or too small?

Have your doc check your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.  If they test high, take steps to bring them down.  Most health care providers want your BP to be at or below 120/80 and total cholesterol to be below 200.

If you have a family history of diabetes, get your blood sugar checked.  Make sure you get into a program to help keep it in control before and during pregnancy.

Eat right – Eat foods from each of the five food groups: fruits, vegetables, proteins (like chicken, fish and dried beans), grains, and milk products. Easy does it on salt and avoid foods high in fat and sugar.

Get to a good weight – If you’re not at your ideal weight (too many holiday treats?) knock off a few pounds, or gain ‘em if you need ‘em.  Exercise regularly and get fit. Exercising for 30 minutes on all or most days of the week is a good way to help maintain or lose weight, build fitness and reduce stress.

Reduce your daily stress – Pregnancy is a stressful time for many women. You may be feeling happy, sad and scared—all at the same time. It’s okay to feel like that, but doing what you can to reduce stress before pregnancy can help you better manage extra stress associated with pregnancy.  And if you’re not considering pregnancy, reducing stress can improve your quality of life in general.  Sounds good to me!

The day Hannah arrived, the conclusion

Friday, September 4th, 2009

75460078915_0_albAlthough it would have made a great story, I didn’t deliver in the ambulance.  Sorry to disappoint.

Now where was I?

We arrived at some random hospital. We didn’t tour this facility. My midwife did not have privileges here. This was not the plan. I was quickly pulled out of the ambulance and rushed inside. I caught eyes with an elderly woman in the corridor who stepped to the side as we wheeled past. She looked horrified. Was I that bad?

The ER staff stood in a line waiting for me. One of them called out, “how many weeks is she?” I was just shy of thirty seven. I was crying up a storm. Someone chuckled, “oh, take her to L&D then!” Hold on…I’m not having my baby today. I might be sick. A kidney stone perhaps? I have back pain. I threw up. I didn’t shave my legs today. WAIT!

Before I knew it I was off the gurney and standing in what looked like a delivery room. Two nurses were pulling my coat off while asking me for my social security number and health insurance card. I could barely answer them and they were getting frustrated. A short, portly woman with rosy cheeks stepped in. In a soft voice she said, “you have to let us help you. Please answer our questions.” She guided me to the bed and yanked off my winter boots and jeans. She asked me if I was having any bleeding. I asked, “who are you?” She replied, “your doctor.”

Crutches and all, my husband finally found me. He was swarmed with questions and paperwork from the nurses. There must have been at least four people touching me all at once. I was in a hospital gown, there were two monitors strapped over my belly, a blood pressure cuff on my arm, an IV in my hand and the doctor was checking me. “Well, you’re 10 centimeters. You can start pushing whenever you have a contraction.” I almost didn’t believe her.  I felt like the room was spinning. It was loud and bright. I’m not due for another few weeks. Our families don’t know what’s happening. There was no time to call our doula. No over-night bag. No camera. I wasn’t prepared for this.

With my husband quietly at my side, I started to push every time I had the urge. I wasn’t having contractions in the traditional sense. Just intense pressure in my bottom. “Stop pushing with your face,” a nurse instructed. In between pushes I would reach into my husband’s sweat shirt pocket for some ice chips that I was storing in a plastic cup. My mouth was so dry.

I wasn’t sure if my pushes were working. I was distracted for a split second by my bright purple knee socks. Not a good look. Stay focused. “Is anything happening?” The doctor told me to reach down and feel for myself. I touched the top of my baby’s head. I gasped. It was the most perfect moment. It suddenly became real and I snapped out of the fog I was in. I have to get the baby out now.

At 4:42pm I became a mom. The doctor placed this tiny person on my chest. I looked up at my husband who had tears in his eyes and we kissed. We have a daughter. What a surprise! The room was quiet now. I was comfortable. Someone turned the lights down. We’re a family now. Despite the pain, fear and uncertainty it was a perfect day and I wouldn’t change a thing.

It definitely doesn’t end here. My Hannah turns 7 months old tomorrow and I have a ton of stories to share. Thanks for stopping by and see you next Friday. Enjoy the long weekend!

34 dieting products and other supplements recalled

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

Over 30 dietary supplements aimed at helping people lose weight have recently been recalled, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The products were found to contain Sibutramine, which can reduce appetite. Sibutramine can increase blood pressure and pulse rate. It may pose a major risk for patients who have certain heart conditions.

For a complete list of the recalled products, click here.

This recall is yet another reminder that dietary supplements can sometimes be unsafe.

The March of Dimes believes women who can become pregnant, pregnant women, and children should not use dietary supplements , without approval by a health care provider. While some supplements and herbal ingredients have undergone extensive testing, the safety and effectiveness of many have not been demonstrated.

One more thing: Women should never try to lose weight while pregnant unless their health care provider recommends it.

Testing for GBS

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

Next week I’ll be in my 36th week and I start weekly prenatal appointments until the baby is born. The majority of my visits are pretty  routine and include your basic physical: blood pressure, weight, listening to the baby’s heart, and measuring my belly. This upcoming visit however my provider is going to test me for Group B streptococcus (GBS, also called Group B strep).

GBS infection is a common bacterial infection that is generally not serious in adults, but can be life-threatening to newborns. All pregnant women should be screened for GBS at 35 to 37 weeks of pregnancy. The health care provider takes a swab of the vagina and rectum and sends the sample to a laboratory for a culture to test for the presence of GBS. Test results are usually available in 24 to 48 hours. Women who test positive for GBS are treated with antibiotics during labor.

Click here to read the March of Dimes fact sheet on Group B Strep Infection.

Also, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have a special Web site devoted to Group B strep.

Food allergies: Lots to learn

Thursday, December 11th, 2008

I dropped by my local Dunkin’ Donuts the other morning (I confess; I had a pumpkin doughnut). And there was a little sign saying that some of their products contain nuts. This gentle warning, in DD’s bright orange and pink, was for people who have nut allergies. Food allergies are on the rise in the United States, and no one really knows why.

In the United States, 4 to 6 out of every 100 children under the age of 4 are allergic to at least one food. Most allergic reactions are mild. But a small number are very serious and even life threatening. In the worst cases, the blood pressure drops, and the person has trouble breathing.

Dr. Anthony S. Fauci of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) says, “Little is known about why only some people develop food allergies.” So the NIH has funded 12 new studies at medical institutions across the country. According to The New York Times, some scientists say this will be the most comprehensive research on food allergies ever conducted.

To learn about the eight foods that cause most food allergy reactions, read the March of Dime article Food Allergies and Baby.

Early research: Chocolate and high blood pressure during pregnancy

Wednesday, April 30th, 2008

Researchers have found that eating chocolate during pregnancy may help prevent a serious complication called preeclampsia, a dangerous type of high blood pressure. But don’t go raid the candy counter just yet. This is a very early research finding. We need more studies before we know for sure.

The study found a link between eating chocolate and a lower risk of preeclampsia. But researchers don’t know for sure if chocolate was the reason why women were protected. Something else altogether may have been responsible. This type of study is usually the first step in a long research journey.

Chocolate, especially dark chocolate, contains a chemical called theobromine, which has been used to treat heart disease. Preeclampsia is a disease of the blood and vessels. It is similar in some ways to heart disease.

Meanwhile, keep eating a healthy diet and going to your prenatal visits. Seeing your health care provider regularly can help protect you from the dangers of high blood pressure during pregnancy.

Reminder: Chocolate contains caffeine. Limit the amount of caffeine you consume during pregnancy to less than 12 ounces of caffeinated coffee a day. If you eat chocolate, you’ll need to have less coffee. To learn more about which foods contain caffeine, read the article on the March of Dimes Web site.