Moms go to ten to fifteen doctors appointments during pregnancy, but only one appointment postpartum. Many in the medical community are calling for updated guidelines, but a new study in Hypertension, an American Heart Association journal, is putting the discussion front and center.
The large scale analysis of 2,400 women found that one in ten postpartum women without any history of blood pressure issues develop high blood pressure within a year of giving birth. Most cases were caught at the 6 week follow-up visit, but more than 22% of moms developed hypertension after 6-weeks postpartum.
Lead author and assistant professor of epidemiology at Boston University, Samantha Parker, Ph.D., states:
“We were surprised at the number of cases captured more than six weeks after delivery, a period that falls well outside of routine postpartum follow-up. Monitoring during this period could mitigate severe postpartum and long-term cardiovascular complications.”
Risk factors include women aged 35 years or older, delivery via cesarean, and/or being a current or former cigarette smoker. All three combined increased the risk to 29% chance of developing new-onset postpartum high blood pressure. The percentage increases even further to 36% among the non-Hispanic Black population.
“Since hypertension often has no symptoms, this can be a problem—when postpartum hypertension goes untreated, it can pose a serious threat to your health, and cause things like damage to your organs, blurred vision, stroke, and seizures.”
Postpartum care has a ways to go, but if you have any risk factors, it’s best to pick up a blood pressure cuff to self-monitor at home. If you ever have a reading of 140/90 or above, you should contact your doctor.
Read more here (via Well+Good)