Pregnant women are doing it for themselves: Self-monitoring of blood pressure in pregnancy
Regular blood pressure checks are crucial to the early detection of pre-eclampsia and are associated with better maternal and neonatal outcomes. Hypertension can develop between antenatal visits, however, and complications may progress rapidly. Having women monitor their own blood pressure at home could be an effective way of overcoming this problem, providing a cost-effective means to improve outcomes and empower women. Further evidence is needed, however, to ensure that the practice is implemented safely and favourably for both women and health professionals.
Pre-eclampsia screening is one of the cornerstones of antenatal care. Early recognition of the disorder is linked to improved maternal and neonatal outcomes (Action on Pre-eclampsia (APEC), 2004) and this relies primarily on regular monitoring of blood pressure. Traditionally, this responsibility has rested largely with midwives; however, there is evidence to suggest that the practice of home blood pressure monitoring is becoming increasingly popular with pregnant women—either through their own initiative or on the advice of their healthcare providers. With its potential to empower women and provide a cost-effective means of improving early detection of pre-eclampsia, self-monitoring of blood pressure (SMBP) offers exciting possibilities—particularly when combined with advances in technology, such as smartphone apps. Preliminary research suggests that the addition of SMBP to antenatal care offers potential benefit. However, more robust evidence is needed to guide the practice and ensure that home readings are accurate and acted on appropriately in a way that is acceptable to pregnant women. In short, the research needs to keep abreast of evolving practice.
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