ILLINOIS (WCIA) — People are raising awareness about heart health for American Heart Month. While many may think about heart health for the aging generation, doctors say we should also keep an eye on pregnant women as high blood pressure can cause serious issues for them and their babies.
The CDC says high blood pressure is very common when women are carrying children, affecting every 12 to 17 pregnancies among women between the ages of 20 and 44. Doctors say if the condition goes untreated, it could lead to more problems.
“High blood pressure can develop into something called preeclampsia and a severe form of preeclampsia that can progress as well into something called eclampsia which is where women have seizures,” said Dr. Terah Holland, SIU School of Medicine assistant professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
Eclampsia can also lead to strokes in severe cases. The conditions can be avoided with proper healthcare including getting regular blood pressure measurements during checkups.
In January, eight bills aimed at preventing motherhood mortality went into effect. One of the new laws calls to make sure every hospital has blood pressure instruments which fit pregnant women, making sure their readings are correct.
“You want to make sure you have the appropriate cuff. Every blood pressure cuff has a measurement on it and there is a range of how many centimeters around your arm match to this range on the blood pressure cuff. So you want to make sure whatever blood pressure cuff is appropriate for your size. But there is not like a different one for pregnant women or non-pregnant women,” said Holland.