When Eleni Tsigas was expecting her first child, she had no known risk factors for preeclampsia — a serious disease in pregnancy characterized by high blood pressure. She thought her headaches and swelling were normal pregnancy aches.
By the time a soaring blood pressure sent Tsigas to the hospital, she had classic preeclampsia symptoms. Yet, it took eight hours to transfer her to a high-risk hospital. It was too late, and her daughter didn’t survive.
Two decades later, Tsigas honors her daughter’s legacy by serving as CEO of the Preeclampsia Foundation, which educates patients, trains providers and researches causes and cures. As the preeclampsia rate has increased 25 percent in the U.S., public and private organizations like CVS Health have joined the fight.
Today, preeclampsia affects up to 1 in 12 pregnancies. It’s a top cause of maternal death and infant harm, and creates lifelong risks for heart disease and hypertension, says Joanne Armstrong, M.D., head of Women's Health for CVS Health. “The prevention of preeclampsia is a wellness strategy for women for their entire lifetime,” she says.