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I had ‘scary’ preeclampsia – here’s what other mums should know


Bronx mom Amanda Perez is hoping to sleep in Sunday for Mother’s Day — but she knows that’s not likely with two boys under 2.

Perez’s sons are 22 months apart, but her pregnancies were worlds apart. Her first was “terrifying” because she was diagnosed with preeclampsia, a serious condition responsible for more than 70,000 maternal deaths and 500,000 fetal deaths worldwide each year.

“I actually didn’t really tell anyone I was pregnant because I was so afraid of what might happen,” Perez, 32, recalled to the Post.

Perez was diagnosed with preeclampsia before welcoming Lucas (pictured here). Tamara Beckwith

Perez credits NYU Langone’s Postpartum Cardiovascular Health Program, a Manhattan-based cardiology and maternal-fetal medicine partnership, with guiding her safely through both pregnancies and jump-starting her mode healthier life.

The NYU Langone initiative, which began in earnest in 2022, focuses on identifying women at high risk for cardiovascular disease early in their pregnancy, monitoring them closely during pregnancy and several months after delivery, and developing a plan to keep their hearts strong for years to come. come.

Perez was better prepared for her second pregnancy. Her blood pressure was low, she lost weight, she walked more, and she gave up salty foods in favor of fish and vegetables after meeting with a nutritionist at NYU Langone. Courtesy of Amanda Pérez

“We see all these scientific reports that maybe within five to 10 years, women with preeclampsia could have cardiovascular health problems, maybe they would develop blood pressure problems and hypertension long term,” said Dr. Christina Penfield, a specialist in maternal-fetal medicine at NYU Langone. Job. “What we try to do is intervene early.”

Perez was one of the first to enroll in the program after suffering from high blood pressure early in her pregnancy. High blood pressure increases the risk of preeclampsia, which affects about 1 in 25 pregnancies in the United States.

The life-threatening complication is usually diagnosed midway through pregnancy. The exact cause of preeclampsia is not known, but it is thought to be related to problems with the placenta.

Diabetes, obesity, advanced maternal age and a family history of preeclampsia are among the risk factors, although there is no absolute way to prevent this disease. A healthy diet can help reduce the risk, but once diagnosed, medication may be prescribed in severe cases.

If left untreated, the disease can lead to organ damage, seizures, and even death for both mother and baby.

Treatment involves managing the condition until a healthy baby can be born, which can be difficult depending on the early stage and severity of the case. Although the condition eventually goes away after birth, doctors will continue to monitor the mother’s blood pressure and other factors for weeks or more after delivery. And, as Penfield pointed out, long-term health problems can persist years later.

Things went much better for Perez the second time around. She did not develop preeclampsia for her second pregnancy and welcomed Daniel on March 19. Tamara Beckwith

Perez hadn’t heard of preeclampsia before she got pregnant — and she was afraid to learn about it.

“I really didn’t want to look for anything because I knew it would scare me even more,” said Perez, who noted that she also had trouble keeping food — and water — in her system during her first “difficult” pregnancy.

Her fears were allayed when she began treatment with Penfield, who launched the Postpartum Cardiovascular Health Program with Dr. Anaïs Hausvater, a cardiologist at NYU Langone, and Dr. Jeffrey S. Berger, director of the Prevention Center cardiovascular diseases.

“I’m so happy they have this (program) now, and more women will be able to use it,” Perez enthused about the NYU Langone program, which helped her through both of her pregnancies. Tamara Beckwith

Perez’s care team kept his blood pressure under control and monitored his vital signs, blood tests and urine during regular visits. She was diagnosed with preeclampsia around 28 weeks, after protein was found in her urine. Penfield recommended Perez give birth at 37 weeks.

“At first I was really scared because I didn’t understand the concept of the baby being fully formed at 37 weeks, because it’s still drilled into your head – 40 weeks,” Perez said. “After 34 weeks, I think I became more calm, as if, yes, he should come out sooner.”

Perez delivered Lucas without issue on May 15, 2022 at Tisch Hospital at NYU Langone.

Perez had to deliver Lucas early because of his preeclampsia. Tamara Beckwith

Things went much better for Perez the second time around.

She was “much less afraid” and “much more at peace” – and she was healthier. Her blood pressure was low, she lost weight, she walked more, and she gave up salty foods in favor of fish and vegetables after meeting with a nutritionist at NYU Langone.

“I knew coming in, if anything happened, they would catch it. They’re going to take care of me,” Perez said of his support system at NYU Langone.

Perez is celebrating Mother’s Day with her two boys on Sunday. Tamara Beckwith

Perez did not develop preeclampsia during her second pregnancy and welcomed Daniel on March 19. She plans to eventually expand her family – and now she knows how to take good care of herself.

“I’m so happy they have this (program) now, and more women will be able to use it,” Perez enthused. “Some of the (obstetricians) I’ve had during this pregnancy have told me that they’ve referred women to the program, which makes me very excited because it’s so important to maintain that follow-up.”

Penfield said Perez was “becoming the poster child for the program.” Since then, hundreds of women have signed up – and there are plans to add additional providers. Patients can be referred from any NYU Langone location.

“Our hope is that this program will grow and follow patients longitudinally for decades,” said Penfield, who added that what sets the NYU Langone program apart is specialist expertise and continuity of care.

They plan to expand their family — and Perez knows NYU Langone will be there when she’s ready. Courtesy of Amanda Perez

How often Hausvater sees preeclamptic patients after they give birth depends on their risk profile. This can happen immediately after delivery if their blood pressure is unstable or three months after delivery if they do not have hypertension. A health check-up is carried out one year after birth, with the aim of evaluating cardiovascular risk factors each year.

“Many of the patients we see at NYU are very knowledgeable about their health — and they are motivated to take care of their health — but we were surprised to see how many patients were really excited about this program,” Hausvater said. “These birth outcomes can be very traumatic for many patients, so I think they feel better to be followed so closely.”

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News Source : nypost.com
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