Key facts about pre-eclampsia
Recently there have been magazine articles written about the high maternal death rates of African American women and the growing concern. With the recent death of Erica Garner a few months after giving birth, many African - American women were shocked and saddened.
These things have prompted me to write about a pregnancy condition called pre- eclampsia that is more common in African - American women then white women. This posts gives facts about this condition but also encourages women to take charge of your health by asking questions and getting the knowledge you need. If you don't know you better ask somebody!
Disclaimer: She Who Honors does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or medical treatment. Please consult your healthcare provider for more indepth information on this or any other questions you may have about pregnancy.
I’m sure many of you have heard or read about Erica Garner’s recent death a few months after giving birth. She was one of the thousands of women included in the higher rate of maternal deaths in African American women.
This phenomenon is not new, there have been articles and research on this going back for years. There are so many reasons why these maternal deaths are occurring: race, greater health disparity, poverty, low education, physician shortage, geographic location, etc.
As a public health professional one of my goals is to prevent disease, deaths, illnesses and other health related issues involving our society. A few ways of prevention are knowledge of self, taking charge of your health and not being afraid to ask questions about your health. With that said I will cover Pre -eclampsia, a condition that is the leading cause of death and illness to mother and infants.1
Pre - eclampsia is a condition that is defined as an onset of hypertension (high blood pressure) and protein in the urine of a pregnant woman after 20 weeks pregnant who previously didn’t have high blood pressure or protein in their urine. If not treated it can turn into a convulsive state called eclampsia.1 Pre - eclampsia is more common in African American women, then white women.2
Along with hypertension and protein in the urine, other symptoms of pre - eclampsia include headaches, visual disturbances, edema (swelling), pain around the rib area, nausea and vomiting. Pre - eclampsia can affect all organs in a pregnant woman’s body.1
There is a higher chance of pre – eclampsia if there was pre - eclampsia with a previous pregnancy, multiple pregnancies, being diabetic, hypertensive at least 10 years, obese and maternal age 40 years and older. Insulin resistance because of obesity is also a risk factor. The risk of pre- eclampsia is 11 times higher for women who have high blood pressure.3
A longer term negative outcome for those with pre – eclampsia is a higher risk of cardiovascular disease later in life. Also, pre – term birth can result for the infant.4
The cause of Pre – eclampsia is still not easily understood. There is still research being done on the why. There are theories and hypothetical reasons, but it is still a mystery. Pre -eclampsia has been around for centuries.
If you are pregnant and have questions, be proactive and get answers. Knowledge is key. Know your body and learn about the changes that your body can go through during pregnancy. Talk to your healthcare provider, or go to a pregnancy resource center ministry like Care Net for more info on pregnancy.
If you are trying to conceive, get a physical. Check your blood pressure, blood sugar levels (diabetes), and chemistry profiles. Get your blood pressure under control, eat healthier, drink more water if needed.
Lets’ reverse the cycle of the higher rate of maternal deaths in African American women. It starts with you. Take charge of your health, ask questions, be bold, have faith.
Thanks for listening. If you have any questions or comments, you can shoot me an email. Please like, share and sign up for blog updates. Love ya!
Christina Leeman MPH, CHES
1. Noris, Marina, et al. "Mechanisms of Disease: pre-eclampsia." Nature Clinical Practice Nephrology, vol. 1, no. 2, 2005, p. 98+. Academic OneFile, http://link.galegroup.com.clp-ezp.carnegielibrary.org/apps/doc/A188753652/AONE?u=carnegielib&sid=AONE&xid=46b5db61. Accessed 3 Jan. 2018.
2. Breathett K1, Muhlestein D, Foraker R, Gulati M. “Differences in preeclampsia rates between African American and Caucasian women: trends from the National Hospital Discharge Survey.” J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2014 Nov;23(11):886-93. doi: 10.1089/jwh.2014.4749. Epub 2014 Sep 11.
3. Samadi AR1, Mayberry RM, Reed JW. “Preeclampsia associated with chronic hypertension among African-American and White women.” Ethn Dis. 2001 Spring-Summer;11(2):192-200.
4. "Preeclampsia: New study documents its enormous economic and health burden." Obesity, Fitness & Wellness Week, 29 July 2017, p. 333. Academic OneFile, http://link.galegroup.com.clp-ezp.carnegielibrary.org/apps/doc/A499061479/AONE?u=carnegielib&sid=AONE&xid=11ce844b. Accessed 8 Jan. 2018.
5. Taylor, Robert N. "Lightning and fattening - evolving concepts in the pathogenesis of preeclampsia." The Western Journal of Medicine, Apr. 1996, p. 359+. Academic OneFile, http://link.galegroup.com.clp-ezp.carnegielibrary.org/apps/doc/A18306616/AONE?u=carnegielib&sid=AONE&xid=755a19a3. Accessed 8 Jan. 2018.
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Christina Leeman MPH, CHES, writer and health educator, emboldens women to be the She Who Honors God with her all - body, thoughts, words, actions.
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