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New leading-edge postpartum health clinic targets cardiovascular disease risk

A Queen's obstetrics professor has founded one of the first clinics in the world to use pregnancy and the postpartum as a key opportunity in a woman's life to focus on disease prevention.

"This clinic is an extremely novel ideano one else is doing this at present," says Graeme Smith, who is also a practicing obstetrician at Kingston General Hospital (KGH).

Pregnancy is a stress test in that it can reveal underlying health issues in the mother that may indicate an increased risk of future heart disease. Around 20 per cent of expectant mothers experience at least one of six indicators during pregnancy including pre-eclampsia, high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, preterm birth, a growth restricted baby, or placental abruption leading to delivery.

Dr. Smith's Maternal Health Clinic targets women who have had at least one of these pregnancy complications. These women are invited to attend a clinic with Dr. Smith 6 months following delivery. At this appointment women are screened for heart disease risk factors and disease prevention strategies are discussed. All results and recommendations from the clinic are then forwarded to the woman's family doctor for further follow up and management.

Dr. Smith has also developed a form that he hopes will become the third standard medical form given out to pregnant women who come for assessment throughout Ontario. This potential record would complement the two existing forms that currently collect background data and in-pregnancy data. The third potential record would help identify those higher-risk women who should be going on for subsequent screening and follow-up.

"One of the problems with medical systems everywhere is that they are reactive rather than preventative," explains Dr. Smith. "Pregnancy is a perfect time for health promotion and disease prevention and that's what we're aiming to achieve with The MotHERS Program."

Contact: Anne Craig
Queen's University

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