A new study has found that limited postpartum follow-up care may miss high blood pressure in 1 in 10 new mothers.
According to the study, which was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, nearly one-third of women who gave birth in the United States between 2009 and 2010 did not have their blood pressure checked within the first six weeks postpartum.
The study’s lead author, Dr. Ruchi Dandekar, said that while most women will have their blood pressure checked at their six-week postpartum visit, some will not.
“Women who don’t have their blood pressure checked at that visit may not be diagnosed with hypertension until it becomes severe, which can lead to serious consequences,” Dandekar said.
The study found that of the women who did not have their blood pressure checked within six weeks postpartum, 11.4 percent had hypertension.
While the study did not examine the reasons why some women did not have their blood pressure checked, Dandekar said it is possible that some women may not have had a regular doctor or healthcare provider after giving birth.
“This is an important finding because it suggests that we need to find ways to ensure that all women have access to postpartum care, whether it be through home visits, community health workers, or other means,” Dandekar said.
Up to one in 10 new mothers may have high blood pressure that goes undetected because they don’t have enough postpartum follow-up appointments, a new study suggests.
While most pregnant women have their blood pressure monitored during routine prenatal visits, the new research found that this care drops off sharply after they give birth.
In the study, which followed nearly 1,400 women in Austria, about one-quarter of those with high blood pressure during pregnancy no longer had the condition when they were seen for their six-week postpartum checkup.
But 10 percent of women who had normal blood pressure during pregnancy developed high blood pressure after giving birth, and this new form of the condition was only detected in less than half of these cases, the study found.
The findings, published Oct. 31 in the journal Hypertension, highlight the importance of regular blood pressure checks in the months after childbirth, the researchers said.
“Our results show that a single postpartum visit may not be sufficient to detect all cases of hypertension,” said study lead author Dr. Lukas Stepan, a medical resident at the Medical University of Vienna.
“There should be a systematic follow-up strategy in place to detect hypertension early and prevent its progression to more severe forms,” Stepan added.
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. According to the American Heart Association, about one in three American adults has high blood pressure.
During pregnancy, about one in 10 women develop a form of high blood pressure known as gestational hypertension. This condition usually goes away after childbirth. But women who have gestational hypertension are at an increased risk of developing chronic hypertension later in life.
The new study included 1,389 Austrian women who were followed from early pregnancy through their six-week postpartum checkup.
Overall, 25 percent of the women had high blood pressure during pregnancy, and 10 percent had high blood pressure after giving birth.
But here’s the catch: Among the women with high blood pressure during pregnancy, only half still had the condition at their six-week postpartum visit. Conversely, of the women with normal blood pressure during pregnancy, only 45 percent still had normal blood pressure after giving birth.
The findings show that a single postpartum visit may not be enough to catch all cases of hypertension, the researchers said.
“Our results point to the need for better postpartum follow-up care, with a focus on blood pressure monitoring, to ensure that all cases of hypertension are detected and treated,” Stepan said.