Pregnant women who suffer the life-threatening blood pressure condition preeclampsia may face a higher risk of developing kidney disease later in life, according to the findings of new research.
In a study published last month in the medical journal The BMJ, researchers from Denmark found that pregnant women diagnosed with preeclampsia had nearly four times the risk of developing chronic kidney disease.
Danish researchers studied more than 1 million women who had a pregnancy lasting at least 20 weeks between 1978 and 2015. The data indicated 4% of the women were diagnosed with preeclampsia. They compared the data to women with pregnancies with no previous preeclampsia.
Preeclampsia is pregnancy-induced high blood pressure. It can lead to seizures and strokes and is often preceded by high blood pressure, diabetes, and kidney disease. It is the leading cause of pregnancy-related complications and pregnancy-related death worldwide.
Despite the prevalence of preeclampsia, U.S. hospitals are often unprepared to treat the condition. In fact, more women die during or right after childbirth due to preeclampsia in the U.S. than any other developed country. More than 60% of those deaths are preventable, health experts say.
According to the findings, women who develop preeclampsia had nearly four times the odds of developing chronic renal conditions when compared to women with no previous preeclampsia. The researchers noted that the strongest associations were tied to chronic kidney disease, hypertensive kidney disease, and glomerular/proteinuric disease.
“Pre-eclampsia, particularly early preterm pre-eclampsia, was strongly associated with several chronic renal disorders later in life,” the researchers concluded. “More research is needed to determine which women are most likely to develop kidney disease after pre-eclampsia, what mechanisms underlie the association, and what clinical follow-up and interventions (and in what timeframe post-pregnancy) would be most appropriate and effective.”
Preeclampsia is common in the United States, but research indicates simple interventions can help prevent preeclampsia deaths. Measures like proper and thorough in-take to assess risks at check-in, blood loss monitoring, and weighing bloody pads can all help prevent unnecessary deaths.
Other prevention measures include recognizing warning signs of hypertension, hemorrhage, providing necessary medication during crucial time frames, and keeping medical carts stocked with needed supplies to stop hemorrhages.