Implementation of a universal postpartum blood pressure monitoring program: feasibility and outcomes

Am J Obstet Gynecol MFM. 2022 May;4(3):100613. doi: 10.1016/j.ajogmf.2022.100613. Epub 2022 Mar 10.

Abstract

Background: New-onset postpartum preeclampsia has a higher risk of maternal morbidity and mortality than preeclampsia with antepartum onset, underscoring the need for earlier identification of elevated blood pressure among patients with this condition. Given the decrease in healthcare engagement, which is typical of the postpartum period, new-onset postpartum hypertension often goes unrecognized. Currently, there are no recommendations for universal postpartum blood pressure surveillance in women without hypertensive disorders of pregnancy. With the shift to telemedicine because of the COVID-19 pandemic, our institution's approach was to distribute blood pressure cuffs to women receiving any portion of their prenatal care virtually, thus also providing access to an opportunity for blood pressure measurement during the postpartum period for all women.

Objective: To explore the feasibility of a patient-driven universal postpartum home blood pressure monitoring program in women without a previous diagnosis of a hypertensive disorder.

Study design: This was a prospective observational study of all postpartum women who were discharged from our institution from July 2020 through June 2021 and who were not previously identified to have hypertension. A clinical algorithm was developed and followed. All the women received discharge educational materials and were called at a 1-week interval by a nurse to review blood pressure and preeclampsia symptoms. The maternal demographics and delivery outcomes were recorded.

Results: Of the 10,092 deliveries during the study period, 5959 (59%) were successfully contacted. 352 were excluded, as they did not deliver at the primary hospital; 1052 (18%) had a previous hypertensive disorder of pregnancy diagnosis; 1522 (26%) did not have a blood pressure cuff; and 1841 (31%) planned to take their blood pressure at a later time. Precautions and blood pressure parameters were given to this last group. Of the remaining 1192, 222 (19%) had an initial elevated blood pressure. Of these, 98 had a second elevated blood pressure on recheck; 17 were referred to the emergency room for evaluation, with 8 being diagnosed with severe preeclampsia; and the remainder were recommended to follow with their obstetrical provider and enrolled in our institution's remote blood pressure management program. Of the 1192 women, 8% potentially had a new diagnosis of a hypertensive disorder of pregnancy, with 0.7% having severe hypertension. Women with elevated blood pressures were more likely to be of non-Hispanic Black race and have a higher early pregnancy body mass index than those without elevated blood pressures.

Conclusion: Our study indicates that a patient-driven postpartum blood pressure monitoring program is feasible and may be incorporated using existing resources. In addition, our findings suggest that the incidence of new-onset postpartum hypertensive disorders of pregnancy may be higher than previously assessed in retrospective cohorts. Thus, there may be a role for closer surveillance of all women with patient-driven home blood pressure monitoring, particularly those with risk factors or in the setting of limited resources.

Keywords: blood pressure; hypertension; obstetrics; postpartum; preeclampsia; pregnancy; quality improvement; remote care; telehealth; telemedicine.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Blood Pressure
  • COVID-19* / diagnosis
  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • COVID-19* / prevention & control
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension, Pregnancy-Induced* / diagnosis
  • Hypertension, Pregnancy-Induced* / epidemiology
  • Hypertension, Pregnancy-Induced* / prevention & control
  • Male
  • Pandemics
  • Postpartum Period / physiology
  • Pre-Eclampsia* / diagnosis
  • Pre-Eclampsia* / epidemiology
  • Pre-Eclampsia* / prevention & control
  • Pregnancy
  • Puerperal Disorders* / diagnosis
  • Puerperal Disorders* / epidemiology
  • Retrospective Studies