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Cause of high blood pressure in expectant mothers revealed

Category: General Wellness

Medical News Today reported that recent research conducted at the Max Delbrück Center and the Helios Klinikum Berlin-Buch in Germany has found an enzyme that may be linked to preeclampsia, a disorder that is most commonly found in pregnant women, which causes a sudden increase in blood pressure. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), preeclampsia can cause bleeding, premature separation of the placenta from the uterus, stroke and death.

During the study, researchers analyzed tissue samples from 25 women who were diagnosed with preeclampsia and 23 women who did not have the condition. Utilizing chip technology, the scientists found that the subjects with preeclampsia were more likely to have high levels of the enzyme CYP2J2 in their fetal and placenta cells.

According to Medical News Today, CYP2J2 helps create acids in the body known as EETs, which regulate inflammation and hypertension. While previous studies have shown that EETs are usually beneficial for the cardiovascular system, the researchers found that the presence of another enzyme known as COX, can cause the EETs to raise patients' blood pressures.

"This work shows that the increased production of EET in the placenta and the conversion via [COX] into hormones that increase blood pressure both favor the development of preeclampsia," said study authors Florian Herse, Ph.D., and Ralf Dechend, M.D., as quoted by the news source.

Preeclampsia symptoms
The NIH reports that symptoms of preeclampsia include swelling of the hands and face, a patient gaining nearly 2 pounds a week, consistent headaches, increased urinating or a lack of urinating, nausea and vomiting and vision impairments such as temporary blindness, blurry vision or a sensitivity to light.

The symptoms of preeclampsia usually recede after three weeks, but hypertension may increase for a few days after the baby is born.

Diagnosis and treatment
According to the source, a physician may diagnose preeclampsia by testing for high blood pressure and weight gain, as well as conducting a lab test on the blood or urine.

The only way to treat the condition is to deliver the baby and, in some cases, if the baby is at least 37 weeks along, a doctor may order a C-section or issue drugs that induce labor. For patients who have preeclampsia, a healthcare professional may recommend plenty of bed rest, drinking water, lower sodium consumption and possibly blood pressure-lowering medication.

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