Taking your own blood pressure can help you detect preeclampsia

Taking your own blood pressure can help you detect preeclampsia

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High blood pressure – or hypertension – is a leading sign of preeclampsia, a dangerous pregnancy complication that can be life-threatening to both mom and her baby. Preeclampsia affects about 1 in 20 pregnant women in the United States and typically develops during the third trimester.

"Preeclampsia can happen to any woman, any pregnancy," Eleni Tsigas, CEO of the Preeclampsia Foundation said in a statement. "In this time of COVID-19, now more than ever, women need to take charge of their health especially when healthcare providers may reduce prenatal and postpartum visits or are conducting them via telehealth."

Having a home blood pressure monitor, knowing how to use it, and understanding your blood pressure numbers can help you stay alert to signs of preeclampsia. If your prenatal appointments are currently via teleheath, you can report your home blood pressure readings to your health provider. One of the main reasons women have prenatal visits is to check for indications of high blood pressure in pregnancy, but doctors can't do this over the phone or computer.

"By teaching women to measure and track their blood pressure, they become an active partner in their healthcare – for their safety and the safety of their baby," Tsigas said.

Home blood pressure monitors are available at most pharmacies. It's important to find a good-quality device that has been validated for pregnancy, Tsigas notes. Consumer Reports rates blood pressure monitors. A 2018 review cited Microlife WatchBP Home, Omron MIT, and T9P as effective, validated brands.

Tsigas recommends looking for the following features when shopping for a home blood pressure monitor:

  • Upper arm cuff (finger cuffs and wrist cuffs are notoriously inaccurate, Tsigas says)
  • Saved reading – make sure your last reading is stored in memory
  • Automatic inflation and deflation

If your upper-arm circumference is larger than 17 inches you will need an XL cuff size or a wrist cuff. Trying to take blood pressure with too small a cuff is one of the main reasons for inaccurate readings, Tsigas notes.

The foundation CEO advises women to take their home blood pressure monitor to their doctor or midwife to check it against their clinical instruments. However, she acknowledges that that could be challenging during the pandemic.

Before purchasing a home blood pressure monitor, ask your healthcare provider and health insurance company if a prescription can be written and reimbursed, Tsigas suggests. Some insurance companies and Medicaid programs cover these devices if you are at risk for preeclampsia. Out-of-pocket costs for the devices start at around $40.

For information and a video on how to take your blood pressure at home and understand your numbers, visit the Preeclampsia Foundation.

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Watch the video: Preeclampsia Malpractice and Birth Injuries (August 2022).

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