Navigation Links
Research May Help Predict Preeclampsia
Date:10/17/2008

The pregnancy-related blood pressure condition can pose serious threat to woman and unborn child

FRIDAY, Oct. 17 (HealthDay News) -- Pregnant with her second child, Joan didn't make much of her abdominal pain and headaches until her symptoms worsened. By the time she saw her doctor, her blood pressure had spiked to a dangerously elevated level, triggering an emergency Caesarean section.

Joan is one of hundreds of women whose brush with preeclampsia is chronicled at www.preeclampsia.org, the Preeclampsia Foundation's Web site. While her story ended happily, some of the site's heart-wrenching narratives describe fetal deaths and stillborn babies, highlighting some of the harsh truths about this mysterious condition.

Preeclampsia is a disorder typically occurring after 20 weeks of gestation. It is characterized by high blood pressure and excess protein in the urine, known as "proteinuria." It can lead to a severe complication called eclampsia that causes the women to convulse.

Eclampsia can permanently damage a woman's vital organs and, without treatment, lead to coma, brain damage or death of the mother and infant.

Some 5 percent to 8 percent of pregnancies are affected by preeclampsia, and it is responsible for 15 percent of all premature births in the United States, the Preeclampsia Foundation reports.

Sometimes, though, the classic symptoms of preeclampsia aren't present, making diagnosis tricky. A woman may have a single blood pressure reading that is higher than normal before her pressure slips down again, or she may not exhibit proteinuria until later in her pregnancy.

"Sometimes women present with this kind of vague feeling that they're just not feeling well," said Dr. B. Denise Raynor, associate professor in the Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta. "They don't really have abdominal pain, but they're just not feeling well, or their appetite is not as good, and that can be the beginning of what later develops into serious disease.

"If we had a better way -- an easy test -- for physicians to do that would help confirm the diagnosis, that'd be great, because it really is defined as hypertension and proteinuria, so if you don't have those two together, it's hard to make the diagnosis sometimes," Raynor explained.

Recent research is igniting hope for such a test. Scientists now have identified two proteins that appear to be involved in the development of preeclampsia.

One of these proteins, known as soluble endoglin, rises earlier and more steeply in women who develop preeclampsia, researchers have reported. Levels of another protein, called sFlt1, also increase. It's believed that these two proteins interfere with the growth and function of blood vessels, signaling a spike in the woman's blood pressure.

"We believe they cause the disease by preventing proangiogenic factors from operating, such as vascular endothelial growth factor and TGF beta1, and that leads to damage and dysfunction of the endothelial cells," said Dr. Richard J. Levine, a senior investigator with the epidemiology branch of the U.S. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. "These are the cells that line the interior of the vascular system and lead to all the clinical conditions that are perturbed in preeclampsia."

These findings raise the possibility of developing a blood test to screen women at risk for preeclampsia. But more studies will be needed before researchers know whether it's worth the trouble and expense of performing such tests, said Levine, lead author of a pivotal study in the New England Journal of Medicine associating the two proteins with preeclampsia.

At the moment, the value of a predictive tool is uncertain, because there's no way to prevent preeclampsia, and treatment options are limited. If a pregnancy isn't very far along, and the woman's symptoms aren't too severe, the doctor may try to buy time by putting her on bed rest and medications. The only way to stop preeclampsia is to deliver the baby. Magnesium sulfate, an anticonvulsant medication, is typically administered intravenously to prevent the woman from having seizures.

Levine is hopeful that new treatments, or ways to prevent the disease, will be developed in the future.

At present, though, many women end up like Joan, failing to recognize head and abdominal pain as signs of preeclampsia. In fact, more than half of all pregnant women are uninformed about the signs and symptoms of the condition, according to a Preeclampsia Foundation survey of more than 1,300 women who had given birth.

Vigilance is key, because preeclampsia can develop or worsen with little notice.

Raynor once had a patient who had two elevated blood pressures a day but otherwise felt fine and wanted to be released from the hospital. But a blood count showed her platelets were falling, a sign of trouble ahead. In a matter of hours, she became very ill.

"Preeclampsia can sometimes do that: You look fine, and then six hours later, you're intubated, and you're really sick, or your kidneys are failing, and your urine output falls off, or your liver's starting to show damage," Raynor cautioned. "All of those things can happen."

More information

To learn more, visit the Preeclampsia Foundation.



SOURCES: B. Denise Raynor, M.D., associate professor, Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Emory University School of Medicine, and director, Emory Perinatal Center, Emory Crawford Long Hospital, Atlanta; Richard J. Levine, M.D., M.P.H., senior investigator, Epidemiology Branch, U.S. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Bethesda, Md.; Preeclampsia Foundation; Sept. 7, 2006, New England Journal of Medicine


'/>"/>
Copyright©2008 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved

Related medicine news :

1. Georgetown University Med Center reproductive health researchers tackle public health concerns
2. Monash wins $32m for health and medical research
3. New research shows that the smell of smoke does not trigger relapse in quitters
4. Stem-cell sentry sounds the alarm to maintain balance between cancer and aging, U-M researchers find
5. American Cancer Society awards research grants to 116 investigators at 75 institutions nationwide
6. Steroids aid recovery from pneumonia, UT Southwestern researchers say
7. Carnegie Mellon International Autism Symposium to Feature Groundbreaking Research, Oct. 17-18
8. MedImmune grants 5 new fellowships to help expand premature infant follow-up care research
9. Latest Research on Breast Cancer Presented in a Virtual E-Conference CME Course
10. UNC receives $8.5 million for new public health preparedness research center
11. Rice research gets high marks
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/25/2016)... , ... June 25, 2016 , ... Conventional wisdom preaches ... success. In terms of the latter, setting the bar too high can result in ... than just slow progress toward their goal. , Research from PsychTests.com ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... ... was in a crisis. Her son James, eight, was out of control. Prone to extreme ... “When something upset him, he couldn’t control his emotions,” remembers Marcy. “If there was ... other children and say he was going to kill them. If we were driving ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... Comfort Keepers® of San Diego, CA is excited ... To Recovery® program to drive cancer patients to and from their cancer treatments. ... highest quality of life and ongoing independence. Getting to and from medical treatments ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... The Haute ... Dr. Barry M. Weintraub as a prominent plastic surgeon and the network’s newest ... world, and the most handsome men, look naturally attractive. Plastic surgery should be ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... Venture Construction Group (VCG) ... held on June 20th at the Woodmont Country Club at 1201 Rockville Pike, Rockville, ... dedicated to helping service members that have been wounded in battle and their families. ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/24/2016)... 2016 Dehaier Medical Systems Ltd. (NASDAQ: ... markets and sells medical devices and wearable sleep respiratory ... strategic cooperation agreement with Hongyuan Supply Chain Management Co., ... June 20, 2016, to develop Dehaier,s new Internet medical ... Dehaier will leverage Hongyuan Supply Chain,s sales platform to ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... , June 24, 2016 ... Market by Type (Standard Pen Needles, Safety Pen Needles), ... (Insulin, GLP-1, Growth Hormone), Mode of Purchase (Retail, Non-Retail) ... MarketsandMarkets, This report studies the market for the forecast ... to reach USD 2.81 Billion by 2021 from USD ...
(Date:6/24/2016)...  Arkis BioSciences, a leading innovator in the ... cerebrospinal fluid treatments, today announced it has secured ... led by Innova Memphis, followed by Angel Capital ... Arkis, new financing will accelerate the commercialization of ... of its in-licensed Endexo® technology. ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: