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Health Beat: High blood pressure and pregnancy | Health Beat

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Health Beat: High blood pressure and pregnancy | Health Beat

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Kara Schooley has a history of high blood pressure. When she became pregnant with twins, she and her doctor closely monitored her heart health.

“I was starting towards the end of my pregnancy to become preeclamptic,” she shared. “I was gaining 10 pounds of water weight every two days.”

Schooley went on bed rest but delivered the twins just shy of 33 weeks. Bennett was four pounds, 15 ounces; Amelia was just four pounds. They were small, but healthy.

Schooley’s cardiologist, Dr. Laxmi Mehta of The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, was concerned about her. Pregnancy puts pressure on the heart, and even after delivery, women with high blood pressure have a higher risk of stroke, pre-eclampsia, and seizures.

“If you don’t know that this is an issue and that you could potentially die from it either during pregnancy, in the one year after, or thereafter or that the long-term effects,” Mehta explained.

The American Heart Association recommends pregnant patients keep their blood pressure below 140 over 90. Mehta said they should also watch their sodium intake, follow a Mediterranean diet, and incorporate moderate exercise as approved by their doctor. Schooley took blood pressure medicine, followed a heart-healthy program, and four years later, the Schooleys added Parker to the mix.

“I’m active watching again sodium, watching the things that Dr. Mehta’s tried to help me with, but, she’s also informed me we will be life-long partners,” Schooley said.

Mehta said women who have high blood pressure can have healthy pregnancies, but it’s important they be followed not only by their obstetrician, but by a cardiologist. Mehta authored the American Heart Association’s recent statement highlighting the need for managing cardiovascular disease before, during, and after pregnancy.

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