May 2, 2016 - Melbourne, FL: Nearly 76,000 mothers and 500,000 babies worldwide lose their lives to preeclampsia each year, a fact that has expectant mothers on alert for the life-threatening signs and symptoms of this hypertensive disorder of pregnancy. During May — National Preeclampsia Awareness Month — the Preeclampsia Foundation and a community of partners from around the world will bring heightened awareness to key issues regarding preeclampsia in an effort to save moms and babies:
“Preeclampsia can happen to any woman, any pregnancy,” said Eleni Tsigas, Executive Director of the Preeclampsia Foundation, the nation’s only patient advocacy organization solely devoted to early and accurate diagnosis and proper treatment of preeclampsia.
“African American and Hispanic women with preeclampsia are four times more likely to die as a result of preeclampsia; and, from 1998-2006 African American women had 56% more preeclampsia than Caucasian women,” she continued.
This year’s campaign — Faces of Preeclampsia — highlights the breadth and depth of women and their families who are affected by this disorder of pregnancy. Additionally, women who experience preeclampsia are at double the risk of developing heart disease or stroke within 5 to 15 years, and have up to 10 times greater risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder following that pregnancy.
“All women who are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant should talk to their doctors about the signs and symptoms of preeclampsia, the link with heart disease, and the emotional and mental health effects of this devastating condition that can strike during pregnancy and up to 6 weeks postpartum,” Tsigas continued.
To advance research about preeclampsia, the Preeclampsia Foundation sponsors The Preeclampsia Registry where women who have experienced preeclampsia can share their personal story, their medical records and history, and provide regular health updates in an effort to help researchers discover the cause and identify factors related to early and accurate diagnosis and proper treatment of preeclampsia.
Preeclampsia typically can occur any time after the 20th week of pregnancy and is marked by:
- elevated blood pressure
- protein in the urine
- changes in vision - blurred, seeing spots
- nausea after mid pregnancy
- swelling in hands, feet and face
- weight gain of more than 5 pounds in a week
- difficulty breathing, gasping or panting
Women should contact their doctor immediately if any of these signs or symptoms occur.
Often times women are told that the “cure” for preeclampsia is delivery of the baby. While premature delivery is often necessary to save the life of the mother and the baby, delivery does not always immediately halt the effects of preeclampsia and in some cases can even present for the first time up to 6 weeks after delivery. It can also leave residual physical and/or mental health issues.
Women should take the following actions to monitor their pregnancy for preeclampsia and reduce risk:
- attend all prenatal appointments
- talk to your doctor about your particular risk for preeclampsia and what you can do to minimize it
- monitor your blood pressure and weight regularly and contact your doctor immediately if either becomes unexpectedly high
- know your family history of pregnancy, high blood pressure and heart disease
- eat right, exercise regularly and maintain a healthy weight
- don’t smoke
Media and the public are invited to participate in Preeclampsia Awareness Month activities using videos, stories, images and fact available by visiting www.preeclampsia.org/PreAM:
- Preeclampsia Awareness Month Kickoff Twitter Party (#PreAM16), Monday, May 2, 9:00-10:00 p.m. ET
- Twitter Town Hall with US Congressional Leaders (#PreAM16), Wednesday, May 11, 1:00-2:00 p.m. ET
- Take the “Test Your Preeclampsia IQ” quiz at www.preeclampsia.org/PreAM
- Contribute to the conversation on social media by:
- Liking the Foundation’s page at www.facebook.com/PreeclampsiaFoundation
- Follow @Preeclampsia on Twitter
- Use #PreAM16 on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest
Media: For more information about preeclampsia or to arrange an interview with a patient, medical professional, or Eleni Tsigas, Executive Director, Preeclampsia Foundation, contact Debbie Helton, Director, Communications at 321.421.6957.
About the Preeclampsia Foundation
The Preeclampsia Foundation is a U.S.-based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization established in 2000. It is dedicated to providing patient support and education, raising public awareness, catalyzing research and improving healthcare practices, envisioning a world where preeclampsia and related hypertensive disorders of pregnancy no longer threaten the lives of mothers and babies. For more information, visit www.preeclampsia.org.