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Identifying hypertension in pregnancy using electronic medical records: The importance of blood pressure values

To incorporate blood pressure (BP), diagnoses codes, and medication fills from electronic medical records (EMR) to identify pregnant women with hypertension. A retrospective cohort study of singleton pregnancies at three US integrated health delivery systems during 2005-2014. Women were considered hypertensive if they had any of the following: (1) ≥2 high BPs (≥140/90 mmHg) within 30 days during pregnancy (High BP); (2) an antihypertensive medication fill in the 120 days before pregnancy and a hypertension diagnosis from 1 year prior to pregnancy through 20 weeks gestation (Treated Chronic Hypertension); or (3) a high BP, a hypertension diagnosis, and a prescription fill within 7 days during pregnancy (Rapid Treatment). We described characteristics of these pregnancies and conducted medical record review to understand hypertension presence and severity. Of 566,624 pregnancies, 27,049 (4.8%) met our hypertension case definition: 24,140 (89.2%) with High BP, 5,409 (20.0%) with Treated Chronic Hypertension, and 5,363 (19.8%) with Rapid Treatment (not mutually exclusive). Of hypertensive pregnancies, 19,298 (71.3%) received a diagnosis, 9,762 (36.1%) received treatment and 11,226 (41.5%) had a BP ≥ 160/110. In a random sample (n = 55) of the 7,559 pregnancies meeting the High BP criterion with no hypertension diagnosis, clinical statements about hypertension were found in medical records for 58% of them. Incorporating EMR BP identified many pregnant women with hypertension who would have been missed by using diagnosis codes alone. Future studies should seek to incorporate BP to study treatment and outcomes of hypertension in pregnancy.

Authors: Chen L; Avalos LA; Neugebauer R; Badon SE; Dublin S; et al.

Pregnancy Hypertens. 2020 Jan;19:112-118. Epub 2020-01-03.

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