Dr. Mill introduces himself and describes preeclampsia and its symptoms.
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I am Marlin Mills. I am a specialist in high-risk obstetrics, particularly maternal-fetal medicine and work at the Banner Medical Center at Desert in the Mesa East Valley area of the greater Phoenix area. I see patients throughout the area of Phoenix, more patients from the East Valley, but we also see patients from all over the state. Preeclampsia is one of the more serious and more frequent complications of pregnancy that we deal with as maternal-field medicine specialists. It’s a condition that occurs only in pregnancy. So if you are not pregnant, you won’t be preeclamptic. It occurs about seven to eight percent of patients in general, but there are conditions in which preeclampsia does occur more commonly. Women who have medical conditions that particularly involve their vascular system, so women with diabetes, autoimmune disorders such as lupus, conditions related to pregnancy such as multiple pregnancies, all can have an increased risk of preeclampsia. In terms of what may cause preeclampsia, which we are still not certain entirely, one of the features is the modeling of a structure called the spiral arteries in the wall of the uterus. In a pregnancy that precedes normally where preeclampsia doesn’t develop the spiral artery structure is changed in a way that prevents the artery from contracting strongly, allows the artery to relax and provide good blood flow to the placenta. The features and the factors that influence that we don’t know, but in those patients who already have some form of vascular disease the potential of altering that structure normally and allowing good placental flow is altered in some way that allows preeclampsia to develop more commonly.