Patient Story

Mother Diagnosed with Pregnancy Disorder with Life-Long Risks

“Being a mom means everything to me and the doctors helped me become the mom I've always wanted to be for my boys." - Laura Misner

Laura Misner had no previous history of high blood pressure and was surprised when it started to elevate towards the end of her first pregnancy.

Her OBGYN kept an eye on her and diagnosed Laura with preeclampsia.

Preeclampsia is a high blood pressure disorder in pregnancy that develops after the first trimester, and the effects from preeclampsia can be life long.

“Preeclampsia can make a pregnant woman’s blood pressure go up and down,” said Dr. Karen Florio, Maternal Fetal Medicine physician at Saint Luke’s Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialists. “It can become quite dangerous if it goes untreated because it can lead to seizures and strokes.”

“It got to where I was going to the doctors a lot and, around 37-38 weeks, my blood pressure was still high,” said Laura.

She was admitted to Saint Luke’s East Hospital and couldn’t go home unless her bloodwork came back with positive results. Due to continued high blood pressure and increasing risks, Laura delivered via C-section the following day and met her son, Kolten.

Even after Kolten’s birth, her blood pressure did not stabilize. Laura was prescribed medication to help manage her blood pressure. After two years later, she was able to get off the medication.

Laura and her husband, Steven, decided they wanted to try for another child. There is a high risk of developing preeclampsia in a second pregnancy, so Laura’s doctors recommended taking baby aspirin while pregnant with her second son and was closely monitored throughout her pregnancy.

“Studies show that taking 81 milligram of aspirin can reduce your risk up to 60%,” said Florio.

Again, Laura was diagnosed with preeclampsia and due to increasing risk, and delivered Bryce two weeks early. Laura’s blood pressure did not change after discharge.

“I remember taking my blood pressure and thinking, ‘should I call the on-call doctor?’,” said Laura. “When my blood pressure stayed elevated it concerned me because I had never had blood pressure issues like this before. It is better to be safe than sorry.”

She was admitted to Saint Luke’s East Hospital and was diagnosed with post-partum preeclampsia.

“They put bumpers on the side of my bed because there was a risk of having seizures,” said Laura.

Laura was referred to Dr. Valerie Rader, cardiologist at Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute. Dr. Rader prescribed Laura medication to manage her blood pressure, and to this day, continues to monitor and checks in with her quarterly.

“It is important to monitor blood pressure after delivery as preeclampsia can develop post-partum, even after a patient has been discharged from the hospital,” said Dr. Rader. “And, that is what Laura did.”

Laura and Steven still haven’t ruled out a third child, but trust in their Saint Luke's care team to guide them through the potential risks involved with additional pregnancies and long-term cardiovascular health.

“For a subsequent pregnancy, these risks would include the risk of recurrent preeclampsia and other pregnancy complications such as small babies and pre-term birth, if she develops preeclampsia,” said Rader. “In addition, after pregnancy, women have increased risk developing cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes as well as increased long-term risk of developing congestive heart failure, coronary artery disease, stroke and increased risk of death. The risk is even higher if preeclampsia is recurrent or if preeclampsia is combined with other pregnancy complications.”

“Education is key,” said Florio.  “It is important for women to monitor their own symptoms, get a home blood pressure cuff, and really be empowered to talk to their physician if they don’t feel well or that something isn’t right.”

“I am so grateful for everything that my doctors before and after birth have done for me,” said Laura. “Being a mom means everything to me and the doctors helped me become the mom I've always wanted to be for my boys. Hopefully this story will help raise more awareness about preeclampsia and postpartum preeclampsia to help other women.” 

To learn more about preeclampsia, the signs and symptoms, and how it can affect a mother during and after pregnancy, watch: Health News You Can Use: Preeclampsia: Serious Health Risk for Pregnant Women