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Telemedicine App Helps New Moms Monitor Hypertension At Home

Sarah Boden
90.5 WESA
Sammia Eutsey and her newborn Chadd Jr. is participating in a telemedicine program that helps post-partum women monitor their vitals.

Sammia Eutsey’s son, Chadd Jr., was born 10 weeks early, due in part to her pre-eclampsia, a condition related to high blood pressure.

Eutsey still has hypertension, which she monitors at home with a blood pressure cuff.

One Thursday morning, about a month after Chadd was born, her blood pressure 155 over 85. Her pulse was 90. "It shouldn’t be that high, but it is," Eutsey said. 

She then entered those numbers into an app on her phone, and shortly after got a call from a UPMC nurse inquiring about Eutsey's recent headaches, medications and water intake. Eutsey is part of a postpartum telemedicine program for UPMC-Magee patients with high blood pressure.

A 2016 study found that more than a quarter of women with high blood pressure were readmitted to the hospital within four weeks of giving birth.

Since February 2018, some 1,000 patients have enrolled in the UPMC program. These women do their own blood pressure and pulse checks five times a week, for six weeks.

Sarah Boden
Credit Sarah Boden / 90.5 WESA News
90.5 WESA News
Beth Quinn is program director for women’s services at UPMC.

“Historically, before we started this ... if women are diagnosed with a hypertensive disorder, during pregnancy or in the immediate post-partum period, they were sent home and told to come back in about a week, or so, for a blood pressure check. Some would do that, some wouldn’t,” said Beth Quinn, a nurse and program director for women’s services at UPMC.

Quinn said because women are checking their vitals at home, it’s reduced the need for in-person doctors’ visits.

Quinn said the program is helpful for new moms who are both healing and caring for a new infant, especially if they live significant distance from their doctor. And it gives women like Eutsey more time to focus on their babies and themselves.

“If my body’s not working, I’m no good to him, and I can’t have that,” she said.

WESA receives funding from UPMC.

Sarah Boden covers health and science for 90.5 WESA. Before coming to Pittsburgh in November 2017, she was a reporter for Iowa Public Radio. As a contributor to the NPR-Kaiser Health News Member Station Reporting Project on Health Care in the States, Sarah's print and audio reporting frequently appears on NPR and KFF Health News.