DEAR DR. ROACH: My youngest daughter gave birth this past Friday to a baby girl. She was supposed to leave the hospital today, but her blood pressure is very high and they say she has postpartum pre-eclampsia. I’m very worried. They are keeping her in the hospital for another day. The baby is fine, but I’m concerned about my daughter. What do you think about it? — R.H.
ANSWER: Pre-eclampsia is high blood pressure during pregnancy, happening after five months’ gestation. It is associated with swelling and protein in the urine, and occasionally with low platelets and liver damage. A dreaded complication is when it affects the brain, causing headache and visual changes, and possibly seizures (at which point it is “eclampsia”). Treatment involves lowering the high blood pressure with medicines that are safe to use in pregnancy. When pre-eclampsia is severe, definitive treatment is delivery of the baby.
Development of pre-eclampsia after delivery is very rare, but it can occur up to four weeks after delivery. The hard part usually is diagnosing it; since it is rare, non-expert doctors tend to think it can’t happen after delivery. Once diagnosed, treatment is straightforward: lower the blood pressure and prevent seizures, often with magnesium for a day or two while in the hospital. Your daughter should be fine, but probably will have to stay a day or two more in the hospital for treatment.
DEAR DR. ROACH: My dermatologist and doctor both diagnosed me with Schamberg’s disease (leaky blood vessels). Everything I’ve been told and read on the Internet says there is no cure and that it is not dangerous in any way. I suppose I’m an optimist, because I refuse to believe that there is nothing that can be done. The ugly spots on my legs are disheartening. I haven’t read anything about this condition in your column and was wondering if you have any suggestions. — J.D.