Preeclampsia is a problem that may develop during pregnancy. It causes normal blood pressure to go dangerously high. Other problems may develop, including protein in the urine (signaling kidney problems) and severe swelling. This condition can lead to health risks for you and your baby during pregnancy, including premature delivery, seizures and stroke.
Although blood pressure generally improves after delivery, experts do not know exactly what causes preeclampsia. In fact, preeclampsia can make you twice as likely to have a future heart attack or stroke and four times as likely to develop high blood pressure. If you’ve had preeclampsia, be sure you have regular follow-ups to monitor your heart health.
It is important for women to know this is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease and to seek appropriate preventive care from an early age. The American Heart Association now considers a previous history of preeclampsia (or a history of gestational diabetes) to be a “major risk factor” as part of its system of risk assessment, alongside conditions such as hypertension and hypercholesterolemia, and other features such as smoking, physical inactivity, obesity, or family history.