Healthy and Preeclamptic Pregnancy Study

Reproductive and Vascular Immunology

Reproductive and Vascular Immunology – Preeclampsia and pregnancy

One of the most concerning cardiovascular disorders is high blood pressure, a condition where the pressure of blood against the wall of a blood vessel is dangerously high. High blood pressure can lead to heart attack and stroke. There is also a condition in which high blood pressure manifests during pregnancy, preeclampsia, and this syndrome is a focus of our work in the reproductive and vascular immunology laboratories. There is evidence that the development of preeclampsia may involve abnormal immune mechanisms.

We now understand that those women who have preeclampsia during their pregnancy are at increased risk for heart attack and stroke for years after the pregnancy. The disease pattern of these women is different from the “classical” pattern of clogged blood vessels observed in other populations. Instead, in women who had preeclampsia the blood vessels tend to become very stiff and are unable to dilate normally. In that patient group, we are investigating how inflammation and abnormalities of the immune system during and after the preeclamptic pregnancy impacts the vascular health with particular interest in potential treatment options.

The Study of Dangerously High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy (pre-eclampsia).

This is a condition where pregnant women have very high blood pressure that could result in a heart attack or stroke, and may necessitate premature delivery. We are investigating how to correct the blood pressure by specifically treating the abnormal immune cause.  The impact on human health is that this will allow pregnancy to continue and avoid premature delivery.  Women who had very high blood pressure during pregnancy have a greater chance of a heart attack of stroke later in life. We do not know why this happens and have no treatment. We are studying the immune system and the blood vessels of the heart and brain in these women to understand what causes this increased risk of heart attack or stroke. The impact on human health is to hopefully prevent these tragic long-term consequences of pre-eclampsia.

We are looking for study participants -have you had a baby within the last ten years?

Help us understand the effect of the pregnancy disease Preeclampsia on women’s heart and brain health.

If you are a woman, 18 years or older, who has had one or more babies in the last 10 years, we encourage you to enroll in this study. We are looking for women who have experienced both preeclamptic and healthy pregnancies.

Please contact Andrea Loewendorf: andrea.lowendorf@hmri.org for more information.