Two studies from the Mayo Clinic presented during the this year’s American Society of Nephrology's Annual Kidney Week (November 8-November 13, 2011) provide new information related to high blood pressure during pregnancy. In one study, Dr. Vesna Garovic and her team examined the potential of a test done mid-pregnancy to predict which women will later develop preeclampsia, a late-pregnancy disorder that is characterized by high blood pressure and excess protein in the urine and that affects 3% to 5% of pregnancies. Left untreated, preeclampsia can lead to serious -- even fatal -- complications for a pregnant woman and her baby. Among a group of 315 patients, 15 developed preeclampsia and 15 developed high blood pressure (but not preeclampsia) during pregnancy. All of the patients who developed preeclampsia tested positive in mid-pregnancy in a test that detects the shedding of certain kidney cells called podocytes in the urine. None of those with only high blood pressure tested positive, and none of 44 women with normal pregnancies tested positive. Therefore, this test is highly accurate for predicting preeclampsia, which could alert clinicians to take steps to safeguard against the condition. In another study, Dr. Garovic's team looked at the long-term health effects of high blood pressure during pregnancy. They identified female residents of Rochester, Minnesota, and the surrounding townships in Olmsted County who delivered between 1976 and 1982. The investigators divided the women into two groups -- those with high blood pressure during pregnancy and those without -- and followed them after they reached 40 years of age to monitor their heart and kidney health. A total of 6,051 mothers delivered between 1976 and1982, and 607 women had high blood pressure at the time while 5,444 did not.
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