Preeclampsia is a hypertensive disorder that threatens the lives of thousands of mothers and their babies each year. It is diagnosed by a persistent high blood pressure during pregnancy or after birth. The disorder can lead to seizure, stroke, organ damage, and even death.
May is Preeclampsia Awareness Month, with this year’s theme to “Move Preeclampsia Research Forward”. We still do not fully understand why preeclampsia occurs, but it’s believed it begins with the placenta.
During this disorder, blood vessels do not develop properly to supply oxygen and nutrients to the placenta. This problem with blood circulation can lead to the high blood pressure in the mother. It can also lead to various complications related to the placenta, causing heavy blood loss and a life-threatening situation for the mother and baby. (That’s where your blood donation comes in.)
Although there is still much to learn about preeclampsia, below are five facts we do know:
1) Preeclampsia and other hypertensive disorders occur in 5-8% of all births in the US.
The rate of preeclampsia has increased by 25% in the last two decades. Approximately 76,000 moms and 500,000 babies worldwide lose their lives each year due to the disorder.
2) There are several risk factors for preeclampsia.
The main cause of preeclampsia is still unknown, but we know that the placenta plays a key role, as well as certain risk factors.
The disorder occurs more often in first pregnancies and women with chronic high blood pressure, diabetes, or obesity. Also, Black women are three times more likely to develop it. However, preeclampsia can occur in any pregnancy. Even if there are no risk factors, it is important for all moms to be aware.
3) 60% of maternal deaths due to preeclampsia are preventable.
Early diagnosis and treatment can save lives. Primary symptoms to look out for are swelling in the hands and face, visual issues, nausea and vomiting, abdomen pain, or sudden weight gain.
4) There is no known “cure”.
Currently, the only treatment for preeclampsia starts with delivery of the baby and the placenta. If it develops during pregnancy, mom and baby need to be monitored carefully.
Medicines can help prolong the pregnancy to help increase chances of survival. However, in some cases the baby must be delivered immediately to save the mother’s or baby’s life. Still, delivery is not the “cure” to preeclampsia.
5) Moms are still at risk of preeclampsia up to six weeks after delivery.
Most women could have a healthy delivery and recovery. However, even postpartum, women should still watch for warning signs of the disorder, including high blood pressure, a severe headache, or shortness of breath.
We also know that many times mothers diagnosed with preeclampsia may need emergency blood transfusions. Help keep the blood supply ready for them. Schedule your blood donation appointment now.
Trysta Developed Severe Preeclampsia During Labor
Trysta, a blood donation recipient, and her son.
Trysta described her pregnancy as lovely. Everything was going smoothly, but labor and delivery were a different story. Her water broke in the middle of the night at 39 weeks, thus beginning a 40-hour process of giving birth to her son.
She developed severe preeclampsia. Labor had to be stalled several times to keep her blood pressure down and her and her son safe. Her son was finally delivered, healthy and strong. However, Trysta had to be rushed to the operating room. She lost a total of 40% of her blood volume and required several blood transfusions.
“I am very grateful for the blood of strangers, which helped me to survive the hemorrhaging that threatened my life,” said Trysta. “Every year on my son’s birthday, I donate in his honor and to help a stranger who is in need.” Read Trysta’s full story here.