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Atlantic Health System Cardiologist Specializing in Women’s Hearts to Speak About Preeclampsia Risks

June 10, 2019

Promise Walk by Preeclampsia Foundation held on May 18

Morristown, NJ – In order to raise awareness of the risks of preeclampsia--or high blood pressure--in pregnant women, Colleen Coughlin, MD, an Atlantic Health System cardiologist with the Women’s Heart program at Morristown Medical Center, spoke at the annual Promise Walk for Preeclampsia™ on May 18 at Oak Ridge Park in Clark.

Colleen Coughlin speaks at Promise Walk for preeclampsia

The walk was sponsored by the Preeclampsia Foundation, which supports and educates patients, raises public awareness, enables research and improves health care practices for the millions of mothers and babies who are affected every year by this disorder. Estimates are that anywhere from two to eight out of every 100 pregnancies worldwide are affected by the condition.

According to Dr. Coughlin, women who have preeclampsia during pregnancy are at significantly increased risk for cardiac events for the rest of their lives. Dr. Coughlin has made it her mission to teach women about these risks and how they can minimize them.

“If you have preeclampsia while pregnant, you need to be aware that there’s a higher than average risk for heart attack, stroke and high blood pressure later,” said Dr. Coughlin. “After your baby is born, it is important to reduce your risk by getting to a healthy weight, eating a diet enriched with plants and staying as active as possible. You should see a cardiologist if your blood pressure remains elevated, especially if you have symptoms.”

Symptoms of preeclampsia in pregnant woman include swelling of the face or hands, persistent headache, eyesight changes (including seeing spots), upper abdominal or shoulder pain, nausea and vomiting past the typical morning-sickness phase, sudden weight gain and difficulty breathing. A urine test that reveals excess protein also is an indicator of preeclampsia.

Preeclampsia can start any time after 20 weeks of pregnancy, but usually begins in the third trimester. The risks of having it include:

  • being obese
  • being 40 years of age or older
  • being pregnant for the first time
  • carrying multiple fetuses
  • having a history of chronic hypertension, kidney disease or both
  • having lupus, diabetes, or thrombophilia
  • having undergone in vitro fertilization

The Women’s Heart program at Atlantic Health System is dedicated to addressing women’s specific cardiac needs and providing a full array of therapies as needed.

About Heart Care at Atlantic Health System

The Gagnon Cardiovascular Institute at Morristown and Overlook Medical Centers, part of Atlantic Health System, is home to New Jersey’s largest cardiac surgery program, and provides patients with world-class medical experts and award-winning cardiovascular diagnostic and treatment services. Specializing in open-heart, minimally invasive and non-invasive procedures, Gagnon offers its patients individualized care at a hospital that was named one of America’s 20 Best Hospitals for Cardiology and Cardiac Surgery by U.S. News & World Report and one of America’s 100 Best Hospitals for Cardiac Care by Healthgrades. Nationally ranked in cardiology since 2012, the heart care team at Morristown Medical Center includes cardiologists with expertise in multiple disciplines, cardiac surgeons, vascular specialists and allied health professionals.

About Atlantic Health System

Atlantic Health System is at the forefront of medicine, setting standards for quality health care in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and the New York metropolitan area. Powered by a workforce of 17,000 team members and 4,800 affiliated physicians dedicated to building healthier communities, Atlantic Health System serves more than half of the state of New Jersey including 11 counties and 4.9 million people. The system offers 400 sites of care, including six hospitals: Morristown Medical Center in Morristown, NJ, Overlook Medical Center in Summit, NJ, Newton Medical Center in Newton NJ, Chilton Medical Center in Pompton Plains, NJ, Hackettstown Medical Center in Hackettstown, NJ and Goryeb Children’s Hospital in Morristown, NJ.

In addition to the employed workforce, Atlantic Alliance, a Clinically Integrated Network represents more than 2,500 health care providers throughout northern and central NJ. This network includes 1,000 physicians and providers comprising one of the largest multi-specialty practices in New Jersey - Atlantic Medical Group, as well as members of the Atlantic Accountable Care Organization and Optimus Healthcare Partners, which work to enhance patient care delivery.

Atlantic Health System provides care for the full continuum of health needs, including 12 urgent care centersAtlantic Rehabilitation and Atlantic Home Care and Hospice. Facilitating the connection between these services on both land and air is the transportation fleet of Atlantic Mobile Health.

Atlantic Health System leads the Healthcare Transformation Consortium, a partnership of seven regional hospitals and health systems dedicated to improving access and affordability, and is a founding member of the PIER Consortium – Partners in Innovation, Education, and Research – a streamlined clinical trial system expanding access to groundbreaking research across seven health systems in New Jersey.

Atlantic Health System has a medical school affiliation with Thomas Jefferson University and is home to the regional campus of the Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Morristown and Overlook Medical Centers and is the official health care partner of the New York Jets.