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Pregnancy Health Problems

Pregnancy Health Problems

If you have a preexisiting health problem or develop a new one during your pregnancy, you may need more care. Pregnancy health problems that can occur include:

Blood Pressure Related Conditions

While your blood pressure is always an important part of your overall health, when you’re pregnant, it becomes even more important to monitor it. High blood pressure can constrict the blood vessels in your uterus that supply your baby with oxygen and nutrients.

Chronic Hypertension

This is high blood pressure before you become pregnant. If you have it, it won’t go away after you deliver.

There are usually no signs, the only way to diagnose it is with blood pressure monitoring.

Your doctor may prescribe medication or liestyle changes. If you’re already on hypertension meds, talk to your doctor before trying to conceive. ACE inhibitors, a common kind of blood pressure meds, can be bad for your baby.

Pregnancy-Induced Hypertension (PIH)

Some women develop high blood pressure about 20 weeks into their pregnancy. PIH will usually go away after you deliver.

There are usually no signs, the only way to diagnose it is with blood pressure monitoring.

PIH can be controlled with meds during pregnancy.

Preeclampsia

This is high blood pressure and protein in your urine that usually develops after 30 weeks. 25% of women who have PIH develop this too.

There are usually no signs, the only way to diagnose it is with blood pressure monitoring.

Preeclampsia can be controlled with meds during pregnancy.

HELLP syndrome

This is a variation of preeclampsia that’s diagnosed by blood tests. It stands for the conditions you develop:

  • Hemolytic anemia
  • Elevated liver enzymes
  • Low platelets

Most women with HELLP have high blood pressure, and other symptoms include fatigue, severe headaches, nausea, vomiting, and swelling.

The only treatment is to deliver your baby. HELLP is very serious and requires care from a doctor.

Gestational Diabetes

Even if you don’t have diabetes before you get pregnant, you can develop gestational diabetes. It will go away after you have your baby, but during your pregnancy, you may be required to follow a special diet, exercise, or take insulin.

Environmental Risk

Certain substances can be harmful to your baby, raising the risk of birth defects and miscarriage. Chemicals to avoid include:

  • Cigarette smoke
  • Lead in water or paint
  • Some cleaners
  • Pesticides
  • Mercury in tuna and other fish
  • Cat litter boxes

Talk to your doctor about how to avoid these chemicals and what to do if you come in contact with any of them.

Chicken Pox

While most women are immune if they’ve had chicken pox or the vaccine before, it can be dangerous if you catch it while pregnant. Tell your doctor right away if you come in contact with someone who has it or if you believe you have it.

HIV/AIDS

You can pass HIV/AIDS to your baby during pregnancy, labor, or delivery if you already have it. You can take meds to protect your baby during your pregnancy, just talk to your doctor about it.

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)

If you have an STI, it can cause your baby to be born blind, deaf, or even stillborn. Medication can usually help protect your baby during pregnancy and delivery. Tell your doctor right away if you have an STI or develop one while you are pregnant.

Your Prenatal Care

Your Prenatal Care

If you’re newly pregnant, we can help you make sense of your prenatal care. Prepare for your prenatal visits, tests, and medications you should avoid.

Prenatal Care Visits

Regular prenatal care from your doctor while you’re pregnant is key to the health of you and your baby. You should go to all of these visits, even if you feel fine. They will help you track the progress of your pregnancy and keep your baby healthy. If you’re having a low-risk pregnancy, your schedule will look like this:

  • First Visit – Schedule an appointment with your doctor as soon as you think you’re pregnant to confirm your pregnancy. At this appointment, you can expect to:

    • Review your health history, current health status, and medications
    • Find out your due date
    • Go over possible health risks
    • Have blood and urine tests and a pap smear to make sure you’re healthy and rule out anemia and infections
    • Plan out your future appointments
  • Weeks 4 to 28 – 1 visit a month

  • Weeks 28 to 36 – 2 visits a month

  • Week 36 to Giving Birth – 1 visit a week


Check our Preventive Care Guidelines to see more recommended care and our wellness benefits for more of what’s covered for you during your pregnancy.

Prenatal Tests

During your appointments, you will have certain tests done to make sure you’re healthy and help you know what to expect.

Ultrasound

Also called a sonogram, this test is usually done at 18-20 weeks to:

  • Make sure your baby’s growing at a normal rate
  • Confirm your due date
  • Record the baby’s heartbeat
  • Check for more than one baby
  • Find out your baby’s gender if you want

Glucose Screening

This test is usually done at 12 weeks for high-risk pregnancies and at 24-28 weeks for low-risk pregnancies and will tell you if you’ve developed gestational diabetes.

Blood Tests

Regular blood tests can be done at any point during your pregnancy, as recommended by your doctor, to:

  • Determine blood type
  • Screen for:
    • Anemia
    • Diabetes
    • HIV/AIDS
    • Sexually transmitted diseases

Urine Tests

Your doctor will ask you for urine samples, usually at each of your checkups, to test for:

  • Excess protein bacteria
  • Ketones, which can tell you if your body’s not producing enough insulin
  • Signs of gestational diabetes

Medication to Avoid

Make sure you talk to your doctor about the meds you’re currently taking. Certain prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs could harm your baby.

Meds to Avoid

  • Accutane® (isotretinoin, Amnesteem, and Claravis)
  • Soriatane® (acitretin)
  • Thalomid® (thalidomide)

Over-the-Counter Drugs to Avoid

  • Aspirin
  • Advil® (ibuprofen)
  • Herbal supplements
National Cancer Research Month

National Cancer Research Month

May was National Cancer Research Month. Help fight cancer and share your story of what real hope is.

 

Learn more about cancer and the role that cancer research plays in fighting it.

 

Learn more about the Power of 1 and how studies focused on individuals can help.

Individualized Cancer Treatment

 

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force talks aspirin for preventing colorectal cancer.

Aspirin and Prevention

 

Blood tests to diagnose cancer are at the leading edge of cancer research.

Liquid Diagnosis

 

This article breaks down the importance of basic science in cancer treatment today.

Advances in treating certain kinds of brain cancer are bringing new hope to patients.

Treating Brain Cancer Like Never Before

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Signs of a Stroke

Do You Know the Signs of a Stroke?

About 700,000 Americans will have a new or recurring stroke this year, and more than 158,000 of them will die. Stroke is the third highest cause of death among Americans and a leading cause of serious, long-term disability.

About Strokes

There are different kinds of strokes:

Ischemic Stroke
A blockage within a blood vessel that supplies blood to the brain. These account for 87% of all stroke cases.
Hemorrhagic Stroke
When a weakened blood vessel ruptures, like an aneurism. The most common cause is uncontrolled high blood pressure.
Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA)
Often called a mini stroke, these are caused by a temporary clot. But these warning strokes should be taken very seriously.

 

Strokes can cause:

  • Paralysis on the left or right side of the body, depending on the side of the brain the stroke is on
  • Vision problems
  • Quick, inquisitive behavioral style or slow, cautious behavioral style, depending on the side of the brain the stroke is on
  • Memory loss
  • Speech or language problems

Signs & Symptoms of Stroke

The early signs and symptoms of stroke are very similar to the long-term effects. These can include:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion
  • Trouble speaking or understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking or loss of balance

What Happens After a Stroke

Once you’re taken to a hospital, a doctor will try to gather info to make a diagnosis. They will:

  • Go over what’s happened already
  • Get your medical history
  • Do a physical and neurological exam
  • Get certain blood tests done
  • Get a CT or MRI scan
  • Study the results of other tests that might be needed
  • Work with you on immediate and long-term treatment

Preventing Strokes

The good news is that 80% of all strokes can be prevented by managing key risk factors, including high blood pressure, smoking, and physical inactivity. More than half of all strokes are caused by high blood pressure.

Learn more about high blood pressure, its generic drug options, or preventing strokes.

Remember, if you or someone you are with experiences stroke symptoms, it is very important to get medical attention immediately. If given within the first 3 hours of symptoms, a clot busting drug can reduce long term disability for the most common type of stroke.

Schedule Your Doctor's Appointment

Getting the Most Out of Your Doctor’s Appointment

Scheduling Your Doctor’s Appointment

Prevention is important to maintaining good health, so it is important to know what you need each year at your doctor’s appointment.

Blood Pressure

This should happen at every doctor’s appointment, even if you don’t currently have high blood pressure, to track your levels over time.

Flu Shot

This yearly shot protects you and those you care about from the flu.

Yearly Blood Tests

You should get these blood tests at your yearly physical doctor’s appointment:

Microalbumin

This yearly test can detect early signs of kidney damage.

Dental Exam

You should set up this kind of doctor’s appointment with your dentist every 6 months for a regular cleaning.

Dilated Eye Exam

This yearly doctor’s appointment is when your eye doctor puts eye drops into your pupil so they can get a better view of the back of your eye.

Pneumococcal Shot

This one-time shot prevents blood, brain, and lung infections, like pneumonia, caused by a certain bacteria.

HbA1c

Those with diabetes should have this test at doctor’s appointments 2 to 4 times a year to help track their blood sugar levels long-term.

Foot Exam

This should happen at every doctor’s appointment for those with diabetes.

At Your Doctor’s Appointment

Ask for help.

Never be afraid to ask your doctor for advice. They want to help you be your best!

  • Prepare – Organize your questions ahead of time, and feel free to write them down if you’re afraid of forgetting anything.
  • Be Specific – Detailed information can help your doctor make your treatment plan and make sure it is working for you.
  • Tell the Truth – Be honest and direct with your doctor. Sharing information about how you feel will help you stay healthy.

Ask questions.

Not sure what to ask at your doctor’s appointment? Here are some questions to get you started:

  • What’s my blood pressure, cholesterol, and health goals?
  • How frequently should I check my blood pressure?
  • What lifestyle changes can I make to lower my blood pressure and cholesterol? Should I start a healthy diet or exercise plan?
  • What are the common side effects of my meds? Will any of my other meds, supplements, or foods interact with any of my meds?

Stay calm.

Do you get nervous or anxious when you go to doctor’s appointments? You’re not alone, and it can actually cause your blood pressure to rise while you’re there. Research shows that about 20% of patients with mild cases of high blood pressure see their blood pressure rise at doctor’s appointments. This is sometimes called white-coat syndrome.

Track your blood pressure at home and compare readings with those taken in the office to see if this is happening to you. Take these readings with you to your next doctor’s appointment and talk to them about it to make sure they get an accurate account of your blood pressure.

And once they know, your doctor can also help calm your fears, like by explaining exactly what they’re doing as they go.