Mamas on Bedrest: Will Beetroot Juice Lower Blood Pressure or Help Treat Pre-Eclampsia?

April 20th, 2015

Hello Mamas!

This came as a response to a post I did on the use of Nifedipine, an antihypertensive (blood pressure lowering) medication, used to treat preterm labor.

Latest details, revealed by the United States Of America Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and based, on over a decades research, suggests that fatalities, from causes associated with high blood pressure levels, are regretfully growing strongly. A particular possibly encouraging portion of wider research, suggests the important role beetroot juice may possibly play, in helping to better management regarding blood pressure levels. It may be a life saver for you to be alert to this research and I’m very happy to share these details to you.

I get a lot of these types of notices on my blog posts and quite frankly, I typically delete them. But with this one, I decided to see what “literature” they are referencing and to see if it is at all credible. But I will tell you right now, I am highly skeptical about this and using this “comment” as an example, I will share with you why I don’t recommend therapies on this blog.

So let’s pull this apart. The first statement is in fact true. There is an increase in the incidences of high blood pressure in the United States and many pregnant women are affected-be it with Pregnancy Induced Hypertension (PIH) or Pre-Eclampsia (the more complicated syndrome of high blood pressure, facial and extremity swelling and proteinuria). PIH is often managed expectantly, i.e., HCP’s monitor the blood pressure and make sure that it doesn’t go beyond a certain level. Health care providers also are vigilant to look for other associated complications and to see of the PIH is going to progress to Pre-Eclampsia. Now with isolated elevated blood pressure, it is likely pretty harmless if a woman wants to increase her beet intake. Beets are good sources of iron and vitamins, so incorporating them into the diet is a good thing. But without seeing any credible literature, I am not going to say that eating beets is going to have any particular impact on blood pressure or will prevent any progression of complications. So with that statement, I cannot recommend beet consumption as a means to prevent or treat pre-eclampsia. I’ve never seen any credible literature to this effect, so I am not going to make any sort of suggestion or recommendation. Pre-Eclampsia is a serious medical condition that can threaten the life of a pregnant mama and her baby. It requires intense medical supervision and any woman who has been diagnosed with pre-eclampsia or who is at risk for developing pre-eclampsia needs to have a close relationship with her health care team and receive guidance and treatment from them.

So let’s look at the next statement. A particular possibly encouraging portion of wider research, suggests the important role beetroot juice may possibly play, in helping to better management regarding blood pressure levels. I have no idea to what research this person is referring. I read a lot of articles and publications; the New England Journal of Medicine, The British Journal of Medicine, Obstetrics and Gynecology, The Lancet, The Perinatal Journal put out by the Association of Women’s Health Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses and many many others. Never have I seen any reference to beetroot juice being used for high blood pressure. I’ve not seen it in any cardiology journals, in anything put out by the American Heart Association or, as mentioned, by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Yes, curiosity got me to approve this comment because I want to see who is the reference for the recommendation of beetroot juice for the treatment of hypertension.

It may be a life saver for you to be alert to this research and I’m very happy to share these details to you. Really?? Again, who is/are the references? Who did the research? Where is it published? Most times when there is a release of medical information, the press release reads, “Researchers find XXXX leads to improved outcomes of YYY” and immediately following the headline, the publication and date are posted. Not the case here.

What really concerns me is that whoever wrote this comment, I don’t think really understands what the post they commented on was about. Nifedipine, an antihypertensive medication, is sometimes used as a tocolytic (a medication to stop preterm contractions) in women who are experiencing preterm labor. I cannot tell whether or not this person actually read the post, or happened across the Nifedipine in the heading and decided to comment. In either case, this comment tells me that they are not really well educated on preterm labor, hypertension, Nifedipine or the use of Nifedipine for the treatment of preterm labor. That being said, I’m even less inclined to regard any information that they submit regarding the use of beetroot juice as credible. As I have said, I’d like to see the references, but I am not in any way looking for Beetroot juice to be the next great cure for PIH or Pre-eclampsia.

Mamas, I do my best to bring you the latest credible information and the newest advances in treatments for high risk pregnancy. Your lives and the lives of your babies are of utmost importance to me and I try to weed out extraneous “information”. I am sure that sometimes you may think that I am being too stringent or too protective of the website. My goal is always to bring you the best, and when something doesn’t meet standards of care or deviates so radically from the medical literature, I typically don’t include it. Now you know why.

Let’s see what this comment yields. I’ll keep you posted.

Addendum: I looked up Beetroot Juice and it seems that there was a study done at Wake Forest University that showed Beetroot Juice increases blood flow to the brain and that these findings show that there may be some usefulness to drinking beetroot juice to prevent the progression of dementia. There is nothing about treatment for high blood pressure in this research. I didn’t find any specific research indicating the drinking beetroot juice or eating beets decreased blood pressure during pregnancy. However, as previously stated, beets are high in iron and vitamins (as are many fruits and vegetables) so incorporating them into your diet, as a way to round out your nutrition, is a good thing. To try to treat PIH or Pre-eclampsia, I did not find evidence.

If any of you have credible research resources that indicate beetroot juice is useful in lowering PIH or Pre-eclampsia, please share these references in the comments section below. Thanks.

Mamas on Bedrest: A Step Closer to “Curing” Pre-Eclampsia!

October 20th, 2014

IMG_3750 1x13Mamas, Exciting News!!

Researchers at the Center for Perinatal Research at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio have identified a Urine test that detects proteins in pregnant mamas’ urine that indicate pre-eclampsia. Pre-Eclampsia is one of the most common reasons mamas are prescribed bed rest, and one of the leading causes of preterm labor, prematurity and even death in mamas globally. This new finding is significant because this current research shows that pre-eclampsia, more specifically the proteins found in the urine of pregnant women with pre-eclampsia, are also associated with diseases of neurodegenerative diseases of aging such as Parkinson’s Disease, Mad Cow Disease and Alzheimers Disease.

Dr. Irina Buhimschi, director of the Center for Perinatal Research at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio and lead author of the paper. While Dr. Buhimschi admits that this is definitely a huge breakthrough in pre-eclampsia research, she admits that physicians and researchers are still no closer to knowing why some women develop pre-eclampsia and why others don’t. Pre-eclampsia is still responsible for some 75,000 deaths annually, mostly in poorer, developing nations. The proteins noted in mamas’ urine are now easily identified with a simple and inexpensive urine test called the Congo Red Dot Test. This simple test merely requires that clinicians place a small amount of urine on a test paper and if a large red dot develops, they know that the urine contains proteins indicative of pre-eclampsia.While we have reported on the Congo Red Dot test previously, a simple test like the Congo Red Dot test could really be a breakthough in treatment in these areas and significantly lower maternal mortality.

Brenda Torigiani's feet at 7 months.Pre-Eclampsia is diagnosed when a mama has high blood pressure and protein in the urine. Mamas will also often experience facial and extremity swelling. Left untreated, pre-eclampsia leads to dizziness, visual changes, seizures, stroke, swelling and weight gain, organ (kidney) failure and death. Pre-Eclampsia is a leading cause of preterm delivery, yet once the baby and placenta are delivered, mama’s symptoms resolve.

The connection between pre-eclampsia and other neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimers has yet to be determined. Additionally, no one yet knows if women who develop pre-eclampsia are at greater risk for developing Alzheimers or Parkinson’s Diseases or have some sort of protection. These questions will definitely have to be answered in subsequent research. In the meantime, having a low technology, easy to perform and inexpensive test to screen for pre-eclampsia may well reduce the maternal mortality associated with it tremendously worldwide. Even here in the US, this low lost, low tech test, performed early, may enable obstetricians to begin treating women early with antihypertensive medications and ward off the more serious signs and symptoms of pre-eclampsia. The next step-or perhaps leap-is that perhaps them mamas who have pre-eclampsia may not need to be placed on bed rest-so long as their blood pressures are stabilized on medications, they are no longer spilling proteins into their urine and they are not having any signs of seizure, stroke or organ failure. Finally, combining these findings with the Pluristem Technology, and yes, we may in fact be on the way to eradicating pre-eclampsia!!

Reference: MacLean’s Digital Magazine

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Mamas on Bedrest: How to Handle Scary Symptoms

September 15th, 2014

Hello Mamas!

Our vlogs are back and we are kicking off with a Q from Mama on Bedrest Katlynn who is wondering if she should be on bed rest for her pregnancy induced high blood pressure and proteinuria. This is a great question as the bed rest prescription has come into question as a viable treatment for these symptoms. I address this issue, how Katlynn should approach the topic with her OB and the latest recommendations from the National Partnership for Maternal Safety.