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Feeling the Pressure

Complications Associated with Pregnancy


Marleigh E. Sistrunk
Nutritional Sciences
Texas Tech University
Clover M. Cherrington
School of Nursing
Texas Tech University Heath Sciences Center
Breanna N. Harris
Biological Sciences
Texas Tech University


This interrupted case study tells the story of “Penny,” a woman who is 28 weeks pregnant with her first child. Unfortunately, things do not go smoothly in her third trimester, and she and her partner must navigate a series of appointments and tests until she is eventually diagnosed with preeclampsia. As students follow Penny’s progress, they learn about the physiological changes that occur during pregnancy, with a particular focus on blood pressure regulation. The goal of the case is to help students build a comprehensive knowledge of the body’s cardiovascular regulatory functions, including but not limited to numeric values, definitions, and the integrated function of the cardiovascular system and an individual’s health. The case is appropriate for a lower-level undergraduate or advanced high school course in human anatomy and physiology, pathophysiology, biology, or pre-nursing.


  • Define the following terms related to blood pressure: pulse pressure, mean arterial pressure (MAP), cardiac output, flow rate, flow velocity, vessel compliance, resistance, vasodilation, vasoconstriction.
  • Review the current American Heart Association definitions for hypotension and hypertension.
  • List the health complications associated with chronic hypertension.
  • Describe how physiological changes that occur with pregnancy can produce alterations in maternal blood pressure.
  • Describe proper techniques for assessment of blood pressure.
  • Define and briefly describe the current understanding of the pathophysiology of preeclampsia.
  • Explain danger signs or risk factors related to preeclampsia.


Pregnancy; blood pressure; preeclampsia; eclampsia; hypertension; mean arterial pressure; MAP; systolic; diastolic

Topical Areas


Educational Level

Undergraduate lower division, Undergraduate upper division



Type / Methods




Subject Headings

Medicine (General)  |   Nursing  |   Physiology  |   Science (General)  |  

Date Posted


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