Heart disease is the number-one killer of new moms, and unfortunately, pregnancy-related deaths continue to rise in the United States. Central Texas specifically has the fourth-highest maternal death rate in the Lone Star State. Two-thirds of those deaths are preventable.

Alec Puente, Government Relations Director at American Heart Association and Tere Grace, Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer at Radiance Women’s Center joined Rosie to tell us about how the American Heart Association is intervening in this crisis.

Why is heart and stroke care such an important factor in maternal morbidity and mortality?

“Heart disease is the leading cause of maternal mortality, and many of these can be prevented. In Texas, almost 90% were preventable. Pregnancy is a stressful time on the body, so underlying issues can be discovered during this time.”

Why is two months of care after having a baby not enough time to really ensure new moms are healthy?

“Most of these issues are chronic and complications often arise outside of that 2-month window. The good news is that this past legislative session, the legislature passed house bill 12, which seeks to extend Medicaid health insurance for moms to 12 months.”

Why is prenatal and postnatal care so important?

“A really healthy mom makes for a really healthy pregnancy. Many women turn their focus to the baby and neglect their health once they give birth. Nearly 1 in 8 new moms may develop high blood pressure in the year after delivery, even though they never had a history of high blood pressure.”

Preeclampsia is a serious complication of pregnancy. Can it be prevented and what are some of the signs moms should be on the lookout for?

“It’s important that moms know that living and eating well can prevent preeclampsia. Signs can include a systolic (top number) blood pressure reading of 140 mmHg or higher or a diastolic (bottom number) reading of 90 mmHg or higher; blurry vision or seeing spots; a persistent headache; and shortness of breath and more.”

What are some resources available so women can safeguard their health and the health of their children?

“At Radiance Women’s Clinic, we have partnered with American Heart Association and they provided blood pressure cuffs for all of our moms so that they can be proactive in maintaining their health and blood pressure. We also provide free information for women and their partner.”

To support building healthier lives for all Americans, visit yourethecure.org to learn how to get involved and find additional resources here.

This segment is paid for by the American Heart Association and is intended as an advertisement. Opinions expressed by the guest(s) on this program are solely those of the guest(s) and are not endorsed by this television station.