While appearing on EYIT TV Health and Lifestyle show, Dr. Rogers Kajabwangu, Obstetrics, and Gynecology specialist from Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital explained how you know you have it, what to do when you get the symptoms, how it can be prevented, and the risk factors involved.
Dr. Rogers says, it is a common condition and one of the major causes of death among pregnant women in Uganda only second to hemorrhage or bleeding during pregnancy, but if diagnosed early, it can be treated.
“We don’t know what really causes preeclampsia, but we currently think it is related to the placenta that connects the baby and mother through which the baby gets nutrition.” He says, in some women, the placenta does not attach very well to the surface of the uterus which sets in place a series of reactions that lead to abnormalities in the blood vessels, leading to high blood pressure and other complications like Kidney failure.
It also affects the brain and the lungs leading to seizures/convulsions and pulmonary edema (fluids in the lungs). Therefore, it starts with blood pressure as the main issue, but all organs end up being affected leading to death.
So, how do you know you have it;
Dr. Kajabwangu explains the level of blood pressure must be tested. Symptoms like headache, visual blindness, and loose movements of the baby appear when it has already progressed. So, the risk factors involved are high blood pressure before conception, obesity, and autoimmune diseases. These can be mitigated by screening.
Also, patients with diabetes shouldn’t conceive before stabilizing their blood sugar. Since this condition is related to the placenta, the ultimate treatment is the delivery of the baby regardless of the age of the pregnancy. “Sometimes we are forced to choose between the mother and the baby in conditions where the baby is still too young to survive”, says, Dr. Rogers.
“I want to encourage you to embrace the practice of getting preconception care. This is about getting screened and discussing your conception plans with the health worker.” The doctor also says that “the right time for the first antenatal care is when you discover that you have conceived.” We expect you to have about 8 antenatal visits throughout the pregnancy and at each of those times, your blood pressure will be measured.
So, what do you do when you have this condition?
If you feel any of the signs above such as headache, visit a health center and get your blood pressure measured. Other tests will also be carried out to confirm the diagnosis.
He concludes, “I, therefore, want to use this opportunity to encourage all pregnant women to consistently visit health facilities for checkups at least 8 times in each pregnancy. This will help us to identify any complications like preeclampsia and treat them early.
Watch the full video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MD4a0_yWGQg&t=17s
Dr. Rogers Kajabwangu is Obstetrics and Gynecology specialist from Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital and Devine Mercy Hospital Mbarara.