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First postpartum heart clinic opens in San Diego

By The Health News Team | December 6, 2022
Staff at the Postpartum Heart Health Clinic at Sharp Grossmont Hospital

Staff at the ribbon cutting of the Postpartum Heart Health Clinic at Sharp Grossmont Hospital.

Sharp Grossmont Hospital is expanding its cardiovascular and postpartum services with the opening of the Postpartum Heart Health Clinic, located in the Burr Heart & Lung Clinic.

The Postpartum Heart Health Clinic is the first of its kind in San Diego County, developed to care for women’s heart health in the postpartum, or after delivery, period. The clinic seeks to fill a gap in care for women who continue to experience high blood pressure conditions after pregnancy.

“Women who’ve had high blood pressure or other heart-related complications during pregnancy are at higher risk for developing cardiovascular problems in the future,” says Chelsea Brauns, nurse practitioner at the Postpartum Heart Health Clinic. “These problems can include stroke, heart attack and heart failure.”

Moreover, Brauns notes that hypertensive disorders during pregnancy can double a woman’s risk of heart disease and stroke and quadruples her risk of high blood pressure later in life. She, along with other staff with an extensive background in hypertension and cardiology, coaches and counsels women on how to manage high blood pressure.

“The goal is to control blood pressure now in order to reduce a woman’s chance for developing significant and long-lasting cardiovascular complications in the future,” says Dr. Farah Dawood, a cardiologist affiliated with Sharp Grossmont Hospital.

To be seen at the clinic, a postpartum parent will need to be referred by their obstetrician or primary care doctor. The clinic serves patients who have experienced:

  • Chronic hypertension (high blood pressure before pregnancy)

  • Gestational hypertension (high blood pressure during pregnancy)

  • Preeclampsia (high blood pressure with high levels of protein in your urine during pregnancy)

  • Postpartum hypertension (high blood pressure after pregnancy)

“We know that high blood pressure happens when blood flows throughout your body at a higher-than-normal pressure,” adds Dr. Dawood. “It’s important to keep blood pressure under control and within a normal range. By doing so, you can help protect your entire body, especially your heart, kidneys, brain and other organs against damage that high blood pressure can cause. Damage can lead to serious conditions, such as heart attack and stroke.”

Staff at the Postpartum Heart Health Clinic will advise patients on self-care, nutrition and how to practice a heart-healthy lifestyle to help reduce hypertension. One of the core practices patients will learn is how to keep track of their blood pressure at home while closely communicating with staff to avoid future complications and hospital admissions. The clinic will give each patient a blood pressure monitor they can use to monitor their blood pressure levels.

The clinic focuses on educating patients on how, with proper guidance, they have the power to prevent severe cardiovascular disease. “We can avoid cardiovascular problems through self-care activities such as exercise, eating healthy and finding ways to de-stress,” says Brauns.

However, Brauns understands these activities are easier said than done, especially with a newborn in tow.

“Newborns can certainly keep mothers busy and tired,” says Brauns. “But we are here to help guide mothers. It’s essential to find time to also take care of your heart, especially if you’d had complications during and after pregnancy. That way you can be healthy for both you and your family for years to come.”

The Postpartum Heart Health Clinic is part of Sharp Grossmont Hospital’s Women’s Cardiovascular Services. Sharp HealthCare partners with the American Heart Association's signature women’s movement, Go Red for Women, to improve women's lives by providing information, inspiration and resources, and empowering women to take charge of their heart health.

To learn if you qualify to receive clinic services after giving birth, call the clinic at 619-740-4770.

Learn more about pregnancy and heart health; get the latest health and wellness news, trends and patient stories from Sharp Health News; and subscribe to our weekly newsletter by clicking the "Sign up" link below.

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