Pre-eclampsia is a common complication of pregnancy that can lead to maternal and fetal disease and death. Pre-eclampsia classically manifests as new onset or worsening of high blood pressure and protein in the urine after the 20th week of gestation. Worldwide, pre-eclampsia is estimated to affect approximately 5% of pregnancies, resulting in 50,000-60,000 deaths annually.
This incidence is on the rise, given the obesity and diabetes epidemic, as well as later maternal age in recent years to accommodate career and life choices. In Quebec, the incidence of pre-eclampsia almost doubled between 1989 and 2012. Importantly, pre-eclampsia bears severe implications for women’s health. Specifically, not only does pre-eclampsia lead to detrimental maternal and neonatal outcomes, but women with a history of pre-eclampsia are at increased risk for cardiovascular disease, including heart attacks and strokes, in the post-partum period and later in life.
Therefore, every effort should be made to prevent pre-eclampsia. Furthermore, women with a history of pre-eclampsia should be closely monitored for the development of hypertension or diabetes in order to prevent the occurrence of cardiovascular events later in life.