#PTonICE Daily Show – Monday, July 24th, 2023 – Preeclampsia and the role of the PT

In today’s episode of the PT on ICE Daily Show, #ICEPelvic faculty member Rachel Moore discusses that PTs need to be aware of the signs and symptoms of preeclampsia in pregnant women. Preeclampsia is a high blood pressure-related condition that typically occurs after the 20th week of pregnancy. It can also manifest during delivery and postpartum, although it is less common in the postpartum period. The three main symptoms of preeclampsia are swelling of the face and hands, persistent headaches, and pain in the upper right abdomen or right shoulder. PTs should be familiar with these symptoms and know when to refer their patients for further evaluation or treatment. It is crucial for PTs to monitor vital signs, especially in the postpartum period, as they may be the first healthcare professionals to detect an increase in blood pressure. Preeclampsia is the leading cause of mortality in pregnant women, so early detection and management are essential to prevent it from progressing into a life-threatening condition. While PTs may not be responsible for ordering tests or directly managing preeclampsia, they should be aware of the condition and its potential impact on their patients.

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00:00 INTRO
What’s up everybody? We are back with another episode of the PT on Ice Daily Show. Before we jump in, let’s chat about Jane for a moment as they are our sure sponsor and they make this thing possible. The team at Jane understands that payment processing can be complex, so they built in an integrated payment solution called Jane Payments to help make things as simple as possible so you can get paid. If you’re looking for an easy way to navigate payments, here’s what we recommend. Head over to jane.app slash payments, book a one-on-one demo with a member of Jane’s support team. This can give you a better sense of how Jane Payments can integrate with your practice several other popular features that Jane Payments supports, like memberships with the option to automatically invoice and process your membership payments online. If you know you’re ready to get started, you can sign up for Jane and make sure when you do, you use the code ICEPT1MO as that gives you a one-month grace period while you settle in. Once you’re in your new Jane account, you can flip the switch for Jane Payments at any time. Let the Jane team know if you need a hand with anything. They offer unlimited support and are always happy to jump in. Thanks everybody. Enjoy today’s PT on ICE Daily Show.

All right. Good morning, PT on ICE Daily Show. It is Monday morning. I am here with the ICE Pelvic Division here to chat with you guys this morning about preeclampsia. This is a topic that is actually really near and dear to my own heart because I had preeclampsia with both of my pregnancies. So it’s a really interesting topic. There’s been a lot of kind of conversation about this topic in the prenatal space lately because there’s a new test that just came out recently. We’re going to chat about that here in a bit. Before we dive in, I want to kick this off going over our upcoming courses for the pelvic division. We’ve got two live courses coming up soon. We’ve got Denver, Colorado this upcoming weekend with Alexis Morgan and April Dominic. That is the 29th, 30th, and 31st, Friday to Sunday, this upcoming weekend. And then we also have in September in Scottsdale, Arizona, a live course coming up as well. Our live courses are two-day courses. We talk about all kinds of stuff from pregnancy to postpartum. We are in lab a majority of the time. We’re practicing skills. We’re going over these movements. We’re talking about scaling and modifying. We also do the internal assessment and we do the internal assessment not only in supine but also in standing. So it’s a really great way to dive into the internal side of pelvic floor if that’s not something you’re already doing or maybe learn a new way to do pelvic floor assessments if you are already a pelvic floor PT. It’s a super fun course. Hop in one of those courses coming up. We’ve got several other ones listed online on the website. We’ve got at least one a month until the end of the year. So we’re going to be cruising through. Hope to see you guys on the road. Let’s talk about preeclampsia. So what is preeclampsia first? That’s kind of the first thing we need to talk about. Preeclampsia is a high blood pressure related condition that typically begins any time after the 20th week of pregnancy. It can happen in pregnancy. It can happen during delivery and it can also happen postpartum. It is less common to happen postpartum, but just because it is less common does not mean that it doesn’t happen and that is something we need to be aware of, especially if you’re in the prenatal space seeing postpartum women. Personally, before we dive in, my story, I had postpartum preeclampsia with my daughter and it wasn’t caught until I was two weeks postpartum and I say wasn’t caught until I was really fortunate that it even was because I went to a midwife for my delivery and I had a two week postpartum visit and when I went in my blood pressure was like 198 over 110 and she immediately sent me downstairs to the emergency room and I had no idea that there was even anything wrong. I didn’t know that I was feeling bad. I thought that it was just kind of the norm for being postpartum and so that’s how we caught it in the first pregnancy. And then my second kiddo, we knew that it was something to be on the lookout for and sure enough within 72 hours of my delivery, I was fine and then it was like a truck hit and I had high blood pressure. So something to keep on your radar. It can develop into a life threatening condition. So preeclampsia itself is not necessarily life threatening. What is life threatening is eclampsia, which is the progression of preeclampsia and that is a condition that is characterized by seizures and strokes and it can also progress into help syndrome, which means the abbreviation is hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes and low platelet count. Essentially this is a condition where your red blood cells are damaged and interferes with blood clotting and typically your liver is involved as well. So your liver starts kind of going into failure essentially. Eclampsia and help are both medical emergencies. So we want to be catching preeclampsia when we can so that we can prevent that sequelae into these life threatening conditions. The way that preeclampsia is diagnosed is typically with repeat high blood pressure readings and there’s also a urine test that can be done to check for protein in the urine. However, you don’t have to have protein in the urine in order to be diagnosed. So this is something that used to be kind of together that you had to have both, but what things have kind of shaken out over the years is that you can have preeclampsia, you can have the high blood pressures, but not necessarily progress to the high protein in the urine. So it’s not necessarily something that is utilized as a gold standard. You have to have this thing in order to be diagnosed anymore. Typically if somebody is diagnosed with preeclampsia or they’re in their second pregnancy or subsequent pregnancies and they know that they had preeclampsia earlier on, a lot of OBs will prescribe taking baby aspirin during pregnancy. That’s not obviously within our scope to suggest, but just something to kind of keep in mind that there are things that can be done quote unquote. Statistically this preeclampsia affects one in 25 pregnancies. It is the leading cause of maternal mortality worldwide and along with a lot of other prenatal health conditions. This affects women of color, particularly black women, significantly more than white women, 60% more likely to develop preeclampsia and that is largely due to the disparities in healthcare for women of color. It’s really unclear who gets preeclampsia. So there’s a long list of risk factors which we’ll chat through, but you can have none of these and you can still get preeclampsia. You can have all of these and not get preeclampsia. You can do all the right things and still get preeclampsia and that’s something that can be really tough, particularly if you’re treating athletes or people who are in a more healthy lifestyle who are saying like, well I exercised, I ate healthy, I did all of these things and then I still got it, can feel like I did something wrong or like a failure almost. But preeclampsia is a condition that’s really not well understood. We’re learning a lot more about it as time has gone on. However, there’s just not a lot of like real true understanding about what is the cause of preeclampsia. So some of the things that put you in the higher risk category would be having a previous pregnancy with preeclampsia, carrying multiples, so twins, triplets, so on and so forth, chronic hypertension prior to pregnancy, having kidney disease or diabetes, and then any autoimmune condition. All of those are going to put you in the higher risk category for developing preeclampsia, not to say that yes, you are going to get it, but a higher risk. Moderate risk for developing preeclampsia would be a first time pregnancy. So either first time pregnancy puts you moderate risk, previous pregnancy with preeclampsia puts you high risk. BMI over 30, family history of preeclampsia, maternal age advanced quote unquote, so above 35 years of age. IVF can also increase the risk of preeclampsia development and then complications in previous pregnancies. Not even necessarily just preeclampsia, but just complications in general. There’s a lot of discussion about what is the reason people get preeclampsia and what it’s really boiled down to based on what we know and what we’ve learned about preeclampsia over the years is that it’s most likely related to the structure of the placenta and the creation of blood vessels in early pregnancy. So there’s not a lot that quote unquote can be done later in pregnancy necessarily. It’s something that is kind of determined and laid out earlier on and then presents itself later in pregnancy. There’s really no great way to prevent it. Like I said, you can do all the right things. You can check all the boxes and it can still come up at that later or at those later stages of pregnancy. We really advocate at ICE for getting our postpartum patients in early postpartum for that first visit. So within like two weeks of delivery, kind of touching base, being that healthcare checkpoint because a lot of women aren’t getting that from their healthcare providers potentially. And this is a really important thing for us to keep in mind when we’re screening our patients postpartum. Typically blood pressure is going to peak within three to six days after delivery. So if you’re seeing your patient within the first week, that would be fantastic. It is so important to take vitals. It’s always important to take vitals, but especially in the postpartum client, they may have no idea that they’re feeling bad or that their blood pressure is high. You might be the first person that watches or sees this upwards trend of blood pressure. So something that’s really important. We can be the first touch point within the healthcare system of picking this up if they’re not going to a physician earlier on or a birth care provider earlier on in that postpartum period. So what are the biggest signs and symptoms of preeclampsia and how does it relate to our job as PTs? There’s three big symptoms that I see with preeclampsia that really kind of like light up. So that could be something musculoskeletal or it could be something that we could have our hands on the pot and correcting or it could not. The top three that I’m thinking are going to be swelling of face and hands or swelling in general. A lot of times we see it in the lower legs in pregnancy, a headache that won’t go away and then pain in the upper right abdomen or in the upper or the right shoulder. So that’s going to be up in this area here. If you’re not, if you’re listening, it’s kind of the bottom side under part of rib cage, right upper quadrant pain and referring up into the shoulder. The other three symptoms that are really larger for symptoms are going to be nausea and vomiting, especially in later pregnancy. So if there’s somebody that didn’t have nausea and vomiting and then all of a sudden they’re developing it, that would be kind of a red flag. A sudden weight gain. Same thing we know in the third trimester, baby is growing rapidly and as such mom is going to be gaining weight, but a significant sudden weight gain would be a big red flag there. Difficulty breathing is always going to be something that we want to kick our moms over to their healthcare providers for sure. If it’s just like I’m out of breath when I stand up and then it goes away, that’s one thing. But if it’s like a significant shortness of breath, that’s a problem. And then vision changes. Vision changes are going to be one of the biggest things to help differentiate for sure. Are these quote unquote normal pregnancy changes or is this something different? Because typically we don’t see people seeing floaters or seeing spots or having major vision changes in any other situation in pregnancy. Whereas we could maybe see them having some discomfort in their abdomen or maybe see them having headaches. That’s one factor that is really going to point us towards like, okay, you have this thing and vision changes, it’s time to go to your doctor and get looked at. So let’s talk about those big three things that I said at the beginning. Swelling, headaches and upper abdomen pain. Our job as PTs, right, is to help with musculoskeletal problems. We see people with swelling. We help people manage inflammation and swelling. Even in the pregnancy space when we have patients coming in with a lot of like leg swelling and things like that or varicosities, we help a lot with that. We talk to people about that muscle pumping action and utilizing the muscles around their cardio or their venous system to help facilitate that upwards flow of blood and fluid. And so we know that we can impact this. However, if we’re seeing this progress into like hands and face, that would be a sign that that might not be your typical prenatal swelling. And that’s something that needs to be referred out. That upper abdominal pain, if you have somebody come in and tell you like, oh, I have, like baby’s just growing a lot. I’ve had, I have pain in my upper abdomen. Typically they’re not going to tell you I have right upper quadrant pain. A lot of the times they think it’s a rib. So they’ll say like, oh yeah, my rib hurts really bad or oh, it’s my like my ligaments or my abs are hurting really bad. We want to follow that up with a lot of questions. Some of the biggest questions that we want to know, is it both sides or is it just the right side? So if it’s both sides, that doesn’t necessarily mean that there might not be something going on, but it’s less likely if it versus if it’s purely just that right side consistently. We want to know if it’s related to anything timing wise. So is it worse after you eat? Is it worse or better after you exercise? Is it relieved by exercise or stretching? So maybe you’re a little uncomfortable and then you start moving and your tissues start warming up and then you feel better versus I work out and nothing changes at all. I stretch and nothing changes at all. No position that I get into makes this better or worse. True musculoskeletal pain is going to behave differently than pain that is created by a referred pain from an organ, which is what that right upper quadrant pain in preeclampsia is. So those are some big follow up questions we need to be asking. A lot of pregnant women, especially later in pregnancy, just assume that aches and pains and stretching discomfort and things like that are normal. And to an extent we expect it, but if we hear that right upper quadrant or like my shoulder, my right shoulder, my right neck area, that should be a sign for us to start looking at these other factors as well and just make sure that nothing is being missed. On the flip side of pregnancy, in the postpartum timeline, a lot of the signs of preeclampsia can be brushed aside because of that like fatigue and exhaustion, lack of sleep, all of the things that come along with having a newborn. So I see this a lot, especially in first time moms where any type of symptom for maybe not necessarily even just preeclampsia, but symptoms of anything are just brushed under the rug as normal because they know like, well, I know I’m not going to feel 100%. And so it’s probably fine or it’s probably normal. We want to make sure that we’re educating our patients of red flags to look for when we’re seeing them prenatally so that when they’re in their early postpartum period, they know what to look for and what they need to be calling their doctors about or following up on to make sure that things don’t progress into more serious situations and conditions. Things like blurred vision or maybe not seeing spots, but just like feeling a little foggy headaches or just like that general feeling of like unwell can really be brushed aside. And so we want to make sure we’re telling them if you’re seeing vision changes, call your doctor. If your headache is there and it’s just not going away, no matter how much water you drink, if you take a nap, if you stretch, none of that’s helping it. Just go ahead and check in and see how that’s going. The education that we can provide prenatally to make sure that our patients are empowered in the postpartum period can be incredibly important in making sure that things are caught, especially in that timeline because we know in pregnancy, especially later pregnancy, mom is going to be going in for frequent visits to their birth care provider, especially like 35, 36 weeks on those are weekly visits. It’s pretty easy, quote unquote, to catch things that are changing. In this case, a lot of women are only seeing their physicians or their OBs or their midwives at that six week point. Maybe they have a telehealth visit touch point in there in the middle, but most cases people are not going to their doctor until after that six week point. And we need to make sure that they know what the red flags are, not just for preeclampsia, really for all of the things, but especially for this episode for preeclampsia so that they know if they need to go in and be seen for sure. Most women are not taking their blood pressure at home every day. And so that’s something that we can really talk to them about ahead of time. Like, hey, just in the morning when you wake up, take your blood pressure, throw a cuff on and just track it for the first couple of weeks and see if there’s any changes. That information can be really valuable if she is also feeling kind of crummy. There’s a new test that just came out. The FDA just approved it recently. It’s been pretty highly talked about for some pluses and minuses. It’s a blood test that measures protein, two proteins that are put out in the case of preeclampsia. And it’s essentially a predictive test. So this test is done between 25 to 23 to 35 weeks pregnancy. And it’s job is 96% validity of predicting if somebody is going to develop into severe preeclampsia. So the test that was done in order for this test to get preapproval was taking women that already had hypertension or had low severity, quote unquote, preeclampsia, and they followed them and the test could predict within two weeks if they were going to progress into severe preeclampsia. There’s some discussion about this test because on one hand, people that are criticizing it are saying it’s just another test that costs money, right? That could be fear inducing in people potentially. It’s not 100% guarantee that you’re going to get severe preeclampsia. And the biggest discussion about this is what are you going to change clinically that you weren’t already doing? So if you have somebody who’s coming in, they have high blood pressure already, which would be an indication that they could benefit from this test to know, you’re probably already keeping an eye and managing that patient a certain way and knowing whether or not they’re going to progress to severe preeclampsia within two weeks isn’t necessarily going to change the protocols that you’re already doing for that hypertension. Same thing with a low severity preeclampsia. If you know somebody has low severity preeclampsia, it’s likely not going to change anything other than you’re going to be on the lookout regardless, which you would have been anyway. On the flip side, people that are really excited about this test are really talking a lot about the benefits of it clinically, especially in areas with disparities in healthcare. So again, we talked earlier about black women being 60% more likely to develop preeclampsia and a lot of times that comes from poor care and not being believed when they’re talking about their symptoms. And so this test gives the opportunity to show like, this is a real pain, this is a real thing and it could be developing into a life threatening condition and it needs to be addressed. So that’s one benefit. Another benefit is if you are somebody that’s in like a rural area or an area that doesn’t have great access to resources that maybe could be life saving for mom or baby, it’s an opportunity to transfer somebody to a hospital system that is better equipped to handle a more severe preeclampsia patient rather than a smaller hospital that maybe doesn’t have like a NICU or maybe doesn’t have the type of care level that somebody with a more severe medical condition would potentially need. The other thing in the prenatal space is women that are coming in with some symptoms or discomfort potentially shortening their hospital stay. If the physicians know, okay, they have low severity preeclampsia, we did this test, they’re not likely to progress into severe preeclampsia. They don’t need high doses of steroids for baby’s lungs to be developed in order for an early delivery. They’re probably going to be fine just continuing on their pregnancy with close monitoring. And so that’s something that hopefully could impact shorter hospital stays, allowing mom to get moving going from there as far as the impact on their health and their outcomes in the hospital. So there’s some pluses and minuses. It’s a new test. It was just approved by the FDA recently. So it’s something that we’re going to see kind of shake out across the prenatal and postpartum space. It’ll be interesting to see how much it is offered and if it becomes kind of like a standard of care versus if it is something that people just pay extra and go above and beyond for. It’ll be really interesting. Doesn’t necessarily affect our role as PTs in the sense that we’re not the ones that are going to be ordering that test clearly. But it’s just something that we need to keep an eye on and be aware of as something that can be potentially done for our patients or something that our patients may be having. To wrap things up, preeclampsia, number one mortality or highest cause of mortality in pregnant women, high blood pressure condition that can progress into a life threatening condition if not addressed and caught early or addressed and caught whether or not that is through delivery or whatever other ways that they manage it. As PTs, our job is going to be to know what the signs and symptoms are and know when it is a time to send out to be done a more close workup on those symptoms. Those are going to be things like swelling of the hands and face, right upper quadrant pain, a headache that won’t go away with any type of our typical quote unquote management of those symptoms, nausea and vomiting that comes out of nowhere in that third trimester, sudden weight gain, difficulty breathing and seeing spots. If your patients are talking to you about these symptoms, tell them to go follow up with their provider. And on the flip side of that, you talk to your patients about those symptoms if you’re seeing them prenatally so they know what the red flags are for postpartum, they know what to look for so that in that six weeks that they are potentially not having a visit with a healthcare provider, they’re not alone on an island, give them that buoy of information so that they know if they need to address it. That’s all I have for you guys today on the postpartum and prenatal preeclampsia episode of Ice Pelvic. This is a topic that we do talk a little bit about in our courses. So if you want to learn more, dive into our courses, we talk about when maybe exercise is indicated or contraindicated. There’s a lot of new information about that where some of the old school things that we thought maybe are not actually accurate or don’t benefit our patients to put them on restrictions. We can absolutely dive into that more in our courses. So sign up for our online course, sign up for our live course, come hang out with us on the road. I hope you guys have a fantastic Monday and I will see you guys around.

25:08 OUTRO
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