Women at high risk for developing preeclampsia are closely monitored for any symptoms. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends women at high risk for preeclampsia take a low dose of aspirin daily. Preeclampsia is a serious medical condition characterized by high blood pressure and protein in the urine caused by stress on the kidneys. Preeclampsia affects all the organs of the body and requires close monitoring of both mother and baby.
What is Preeclampsia?
Preeclampsia is a serious complication that affects approximately 4% of all pregnancies in the U.S. It is the main contributing factor in mother and infant mortality, as well as 15% of preterm births. While many expectant mothers experience few physical symptoms, preeclampsia is characterized by high blood pressure and the presence of protein in your urine during the second half of your pregnancy. Other symptoms include sudden weight gain, swollen hands or face, vision changes, persistent headache and abdominal pain on the upper right side.
Tell your OBGYN if you experience any of these symptoms.
Risk Factors for Preeclampsia
While the true cause of preeclampsia is not known, there are several risk factors your OBGYN will evaluate. As part of the recommendation, the USPSTF broadened the category of high risk from previous guidance.
For high risk individuals, your OBGYN will likely recommend you start a low-dose aspirin regimen. You are considered to be at high risk if more than one of these factors is true for you.
History of preeclampsia
Chronic hypertension (high blood pressure)
Type 1 or 2 diabetes
If you are at moderate risk, your OBGYN may recommend you start a low-dose aspirin regimen. You are considered to be at moderate risk if more than one of these factors is true for you.
Nulliparity (first time mothers or never having a prior live birth)
Family history of preeclampsia (mother or sister)
Greater than 35 years old
Prior pregnancy history (i.e., low birth weight)
For women having previous healthy pregnancies, no low-dose aspirin is recommended.
Preventing Preeclampsia with Low-Dose Aspirin
While additional research is needed to evaluate the true benefits of a low-dose aspirin regimen in preventing preeclampsia, current studies indicate it can be very effective in high-risk individuals. Evidence indicates the use of low-dose aspirin can reduce the risk of developing preeclampsia by almost 25% in high-risk women. In addition, premature births and intrauterine growth restriction is dramatically reduced.
Talk to Dr. Nathan T. Thomas about any concerns you have regarding preeclampsia.