High blood pressure during pregnancy, also known as preeclampsia or gestational hypertension, is a condition that can develop at any time during pregnancy.

Preeclampsia Information for Patients

What are the symptoms of Preeclampsia?

Pregnant women who have preeclampsia may experience the following:

  • Headache
  • Swelling of hands and feet
  • Abdominal pain

Is Preeclampsia harmful?

  • For unborn babies, preeclampsia can be harmful because it may cause the baby to grow more slowly and can cause preterm (early) birth
  • For pregnant moms, preeclampsia can lead to seizures, decrease in organ function, and in some cases, death

Who is at risk?

  • Preeclampsia affects 1 out of every 20 pregnancies.
  • At BMC, 3 out of 10 women have high blood pressure in pregnancy.

Women at high risk of developing preeclampsia include:

  • History of high blood pressure (chronic or in pregnancy)
  • History of diabetes
  • Women pregnant with twins or triplets
  • History of kidney problems
  • Having an autoimmune disease

Moderate risk factors for developing preeclampsia include:

  • First pregnancy
  • High body fat (BMI>30)
  • Family history of preeclampsia
  • Women who are African American/Black
  • Women are 35 or older
  • Previously had a baby with low birth weight
  • It’s been more than 10 years since having a previous baby

How can at-risk patients prevent complications from preeclampsia?

Prenatal aspirin (aka low-dose baby, or 81mg aspirin) is recommended for women whose pregnancies are at a moderate or high-risk of developing preeclampsia. When that is the case, taking aspirin will not harm mom or her unborn baby.

Benefits of prenatal aspirin

  • Safe for mom and baby
  • Works within the placenta
  • Lowers risk of premature birth
  • Lowers risk of baby being low birthweight

Patients should speak with their provider to see if they may be a good candidate for prenatal aspirin.

Information about Preeclampsia for Medical Professionals

The Prenatal Aspirin Project at Boston Medical Center is a Quality Improvement initiative that aims to increase awareness and education of aspirin during pregnancy. Our 2018 goals include increasing prescription rates for all at-risk women to 90%, while engaging with pharmacists, patients, and community stakeholders to increase acceptance of prenatal aspirin. 

Learn more and access useful at www.prenatalaspirin.com