According to a study in the Journal Hypertension, scientists have discovered an enzyme which might give a new direction for treatments of a serious complication of pregnancy called preeclampsia.
Preeclampsia develops in 7 & of all U.S. pregnancies. Some common symptoms of this condition are high concentrations of protein in urine, increase in blood pressure, swelling and blood clot formation.
In Virginia, researchers conducted several genetic tests on 22 women with preeclampsia as well as on 16 normal pregnant women. The gestation period for all these women in the study was 28 and 38 weeks.
An enzyme which is associated with an increase in blood pressure as well as clot formation called thromboxane was found to be present at significantly higher levels in those women with preeclampsia compared to healthy pregnant women. Upon examination of specific enzyme antibodies, it was discovered that this enzyme was present in just 25 percent of non-preeclampsia pregnant women compared to 95 percent of the pregnancies complicated with preeclampsia.
A gene which is associated with the enzyme called TBXAS1 was found to have considerably higher activity in the pregnancies complicated by preeclampsia.
Researchers said that the ability to inhibit or block this enzyme could give rise to new treatments for preeclampsia. They also suggested that the adverse enzyme activity found in preeclampsia can be avoided by the use of folic acid supplements.
What is preeclampsia?
Some women get preeclampsia when they are pregnant. It tends to occur after 20 weeks of pregnancy (during the second half of pregnancy).
What are Preeclampsia Symptoms?
The majority of women diagnosed with preeclampsia actually do not feel any different than usual unless their symptoms are severe. Some common symptoms and signs of severe preeclampsia are:
- A change in vision: flashes of light, blurry vision, spots- Vomiting or nausea
- Urinating less frequently than usual
- Pain in the stomach, especially in the upper part
- Hands and face swelling
- Rapid weight gain (over 2 pounds a week)
These symptoms may occur also during normal pregnancies, therefore there is no need to be alarmed if you do in fact have any of these symptoms. However, it is vital that you tell your nurse or doctor immediately just to be on the safe side.
How can preeclampsia affect your baby?
- Slow down the growth of your baby (called IUGR or Intrauterine growth restriction).
- The amount of amniotic fluid (a liquid which protects and surrounds your baby in the uterus) can be decreased.
Does a test for preeclampsia exist?
Yes, a test for preeclampsia does exist. The test involves a doctor or nurse taking your blood pressure as well as checking your urine for protein each time you come in for your prenatal visit.
While your doctor will tell you whether you have preeclampsia or not, it is still a good idea to know what the numbers mean when your blood pressure is checked.
Your doctor or nurse will say two numbers, for example, “140 over 90.” For you to be diagnosed with preeclampsia, your systolic pressure (or to put it simply, the top number) needs be 140 or above, or your diastolic pressure (bottom number) needs to be 90 or above. Apart from your blood pressure levels, an excess of protein must also be present in your urine.
How can preeclampsia be treated?
The sole cure for preeclampsia is too simply delivering your baby. Your doctor will make the decision as to whether it is better to have the baby delivered, or if you can wait until later in your pregnancy.
When your physician has decided to start your labor and deliver your baby they will give you medicine to start your contractions, this is defined as “inducing labor.” While most women will be able to give birth in the normal way through the vagina, it is sometimes necessary for a doctor to perform a C-section (caesarean delivery).
If your preeclampsia is not regarded as being severe and if you’re due date is not for many weeks to come, your doctor will most probably wait to deliver your baby. This is done in order to give your baby more time to develop and grow. If your doctor does in fact decide to wait, they will often check you and your baby for any problems every few days.
What steps can I take to prevent preeclampsia?
You are not able to do anything to prevent preeclampsia. However, the most important thing you can do is make sure you keep all your scheduled prenatal appointments. It is important for your physician to continuously monitor your blood pressure, swelling, urine protein and your baby’s well-being.