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Atrium Health Navicent Urges Pregnant Women to Stay on Track with Prenatal Care

May is Preeclampsia Awareness Month

May is Preeclampsia Awareness Month and doctors at Atrium Health Navicent are raising awareness about the condition which results in the deaths of 50,000 mothers and 500,000 babies worldwide each year.

Preeclampsia is a pregnancy-specific condition that occurs after 20 weeks of pregnancy and affects 5 percent to 8 percent of expectant mothers. One of the most common pregnancy complications, it is characterized by high blood pressure and protein in the urine. The rapid rise in blood pressure caused by preeclampsia can result in seizure, stroke, multiple organ failure and death of the mother and the baby. Preeclampsia can also lead to fetal growth restriction and the increased risk of stillbirth.

Preeclampsia is more common in first pregnancies and in patients who are very young or are of advanced maternal age. The risk also increases in patients who have a history of high blood pressure outside of pregnancy, have pre-gestational diabetes or in those with known autoimmune disorders.

Doctors say the rate of preeclampsia is increasing due to rising rates of risk factors such as chronic hypertension (high blood pressure), obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome and advancing maternal age. Risk factors for preeclampsia can be tied to ethnicity. Black and Hispanic women account for about 26 percent of maternal deaths among this population. Georgia’s maternal mortality rate is among the highest in the nation, and due to a number of factors, black women in our state are three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications such as preeclampsia.

In an effort to improve outcomes for mothers and their children, Atrium Health Navicent is sharing the word about the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s “HEAR HER” campaign, which seeks to increase awareness of serious pregnancy-related complications and their warning signs, and to empower pregnant women to speak up about their concerns.

“It’s vital that women call their doctors when they think something isn’t right with their pregnancy. Like the CDC’s campaign makes clear, many maternal deaths can be prevented and by raising awareness about pregnancy-related complications. Coworkers, family members, friends and others can help support mothers in our community and improve health outcomes,” said Dr. Misti Patel, an Atrium Health Navicent maternal fetal medicine specialist. “Sometimes pregnant women with preeclampsia have no symptoms. When women participate in prenatal care and follow-up appointments, they allow their obstetrician to closely monitor their care and have the best chance to quickly identify potentially life-threatening concerns.”

Preeclampsia can occur quickly, without any warning, and it can happen to anyone. Women should seek medical attention if they experience swelling, gastric pain, headaches, visual changes or shortness of breath, or blood pressure of greater than 140/90 on home blood pressure monitoring.

A specialist will help balance the health risks of a mother diagnosed with preeclampsia with that of her baby. Delivery may be recommended, but doctors can also help manage preeclampsia through medications to treat blood pressure and, if necessary, hospitalization.

Because most women have no symptoms of preeclampsia, doctors urge all expectant mothers to start routine prenatal care early, and stay on track with regular check-ups throughout their pregnancy.

Atrium Health Navicent Women’s Care offers care in Forsyth in Macon. For an appointment, call 478-633-1821.

About Atrium Health Navicent

Atrium Health Navicent is the leading provider of health care in central and south Georgia and is committed to its mission of elevating health and wellbeing through compassionate care. Atrium Health Navicent is part of Advocate Health, which is headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, and is the third-largest nonprofit health system in the United States, created from the combination of Atrium Health and Advocate Aurora Health. Atrium Health Navicent provides high-quality, personalized care in 53 specialties at more than 50 facilities throughout the region. As part of the largest, integrated, nonprofit health system in the Southeast, it is also able to tap into some of the nation’s leading medical experts and specialists with Atrium Health, allowing it to provide the best care close to home – including advanced innovations in virtual medicine and care. Throughout its 125-year history in the community, Atrium Health Navicent has remained dedicated to enhancing health and wellness for individuals throughout the region through nationally recognized quality care, community health initiatives and collaborative partnerships. It is also one of the leading teaching hospitals in the region, helping to ensure viability for rural health care for the next generation. For more information, please visit

About Advocate Health

Advocate Health is the third-largest nonprofit integrated health system in the United States – created from the combination of Advocate Aurora Health and Atrium Health. Providing care under the names Advocate Health Care in Illinois, Atrium Health in the Carolinas, Georgia and Alabama, and Aurora Health Care in Wisconsin, Advocate Health is a national leader in clinical innovation, health outcomes, consumer experience and value-based care, with Wake Forest University School of Medicine serving as the academic core of the enterprise. Headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, Advocate Health serves nearly 6 million patients and is engaged in hundreds of clinical trials and research studies. It is nationally recognized for its expertise in cardiology, neurosciences, oncology, pediatrics and rehabilitation, as well as organ transplants, burn treatments and specialized musculoskeletal programs. Advocate Health employs 155,000 team members across 69 hospitals and over 1,000 care locations and offers one of the nation’s largest graduate medical education programs with over 2,000 residents and fellows across more than 200 programs. Committed to equitable care for all, Advocate Health provides nearly $6 billion in annual community benefits.