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Cardiovascular Complications of Pregnancy

Although not common, high blood pressure readings during pregnancy occur in 4% of all pregnancies in the US.

The potential problem with this population group is that there is a 3-8x increased risk for developing cardiovascular disease later in the woman's life. In April of this year, the US Preventive Services Task Force released recommendations on preeclampsia screening, including screening women with BP measurements at every prenatal visit. The reason for this is that many of the hypertensive women are not being identified right away when treatment potentially could prevent the development of permanent hypertension and also prevent the development of a peripartum cardiomyopathy - a potentially serious side effect of hypertension during pregnancy.

Currently the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends methyldopa, labetalol and nifedipine to treat hypertension during pregnancy. As far as treatment for familial hyperlipidemia is concerned, statin therapy should not be used during pregnancy but can be restarted after delivery. The main issue is to identify and effectively treat hypertension in the pregnant woman in order to prevent potential complications both during and after the delivery of the baby.

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