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What is preeclampsia and how to deal with it


What is preeclampsia and how to deal with it

What is preeclampsia and how to deal with it

Contents of the article

  • What is preeclampsia?
  • What are the causes of preeclampsia?
  • How can preeclampsia be prevented?
  • Signs and symptoms of preeclampsia
  • How do doctors diagnose preeclampsia?
  • Complications related to preeclampsia
  • Preeclampsia treatment options


Preeclampsia (or pre-eclampsia) is a dangerous and rare condition that needs to be watched and wary during pregnancy, especially if you have one of the known risk factors. If you're wondering how common preeclampsia is, it helps to know that it only affects 2 to 8 percent of pregnancies.

If you were recently diagnosed with preeclampsia, the news may be shocking at first, but you can help yourself by learning more about preeclampsia to make you feel more in control.

What is preeclampsia?

Preeclampsia is a blood pressure disorder that most often occurs after the 20th week of pregnancy in the second or third trimester . A similar condition called postpartum preeclampsia can occur after childbirth.

Preeclampsia can rise quickly, or your blood pressure may rise slowly but steadily. The severity of this condition can range from mild to severe.

  • Mild preeclampsia. Mild high blood pressure in a pregnant woman can be a sign of preeclampsia, but since the symptoms are not so severe, you may not notice them. However, it is imperative that your midwife monitor preeclampsia very carefully, and labor may be induced once your pregnancy is over.
  • Acute preeclampsia. Your blood pressure readings are very high, and you'll likely notice severe symptoms of preeclampsia (more on this below). Severe preeclampsia may require you to be admitted to hospital, where your doctor will treat symptoms of the condition. It is also possible to resort to induction of labor in rare and dangerous cases.

Your doctor will check for preeclampsia periodically during follow-up visits and treat it if necessary. Most women who suffer from preeclampsia are able to have healthy babies.

Pregnancy cramps (eclampsia): preeclampsia (pre-eclampsia) is often confused with pregnancy cramps (eclampsia), but pregnancy cramps are the most serious and severe condition that includes seizures caused by high blood pressure. Usually this condition requires the birth of the baby immediately, regardless of how long the pregnancy has passed.

Postpartum preeclampsia: Postpartum preeclampsia occurs after the delivery of your baby, and it may occur even if you did not show any signs of preeclampsia during your pregnancy. Postpartum preeclampsia symptoms may appear within 48 hours after birth, or up to 6 weeks after. These symptoms are often the same as those of preeclampsia. However, childbirth is a treatment for preeclampsia, while postpartum preeclampsia requires medication to lower blood pressure and prevent seizures.

What are the causes of preeclampsia?

Although there are no clear causes of preeclampsia, there are known risk factors that make you more susceptible to it, including:

  • This will be your first pregnancy
  • This is your first pregnancy from a new partner
  • There is a time difference of less than two years or more than 10 years from one pregnancy to another
  • You had preeclampsia in a previous pregnancy
  • Previous family cases of preeclampsia
  • You usually suffer from high blood pressure or kidney disease
  • You are 40 years or older.
  • Being pregnant with twins, triplets, or more
  • You have diabetes, blood-clotting disease, lupus or migraines
  • You are obese
  • Your pregnancy is the result of IVF (in vitro fertilization).

How can preeclampsia be prevented?

Preeclampsia cannot always be avoided, but you can take some precautions if any of the risk factors apply to you.

  • Determine and treat the risk factors that apply to you, preferably before pregnancy. For example, you should try to control the problem of high blood pressure, lose weight if necessary, and make sure that you control your sugar level in the event that you have diabetes before pregnancy. Your doctor can advise you on the best steps to follow if you are pregnant. You already have one of these risk factors.
  • Some doctors may also recommend small doses of aspirin during pregnancy if you are at a high risk of preeclampsia.

Signs and symptoms of preeclampsia

Signs and symptoms of preeclampsia include:

  • A persistent headache
  • Vision problems or seeing spots in front of the eyes
  • Pain in the upper abdomen or shoulder area
  • Nausea and vomiting (in the second half of pregnancy)
  • Sudden increase in weight
  • Sudden swelling of the face and hands
  • breathing difficulties
  • Decreased urine output

Some of these symptoms (such as swelling, nausea, and headache) are also normal symptoms of pregnancy, so it is sometimes difficult to tell if something is wrong . Go to your doctor or emergency room immediately if you notice any of the warning signs of preeclampsia, such as severe headache, severe blurred vision, severe pain in the abdominal area, or severe shortness of breath.

How do doctors diagnose preeclampsia?

Tests to diagnose preeclampsia usually include monitoring your blood pressure during pregnancy follow-up visits. Recording a blood pressure reading equal to or greater than 140/90 mm Hg on two times separated by at least four hours is considered abnormal. Make sure you tell your doctor about any signs of preeclampsia you've noticed before, as this helps the diagnosis process. Your doctor may run other preeclampsia tests, such as:

  • Blood tests to determine how well the liver and kidneys are working, and to determine the level of blood platelets
  • Urinalysis to check how much protein is in your urine
  • Fetal ultrasound to monitor your baby's growth, estimate his weight and check the amount of amniotic fluid
  • Fetal Monitor NST to check your baby's heart rate response as he or she is moving
  • Testing the biophysical features of the fetus to measure your baby's breathing, muscle tone and movement.

Complications related to preeclampsia

Preeclampsia complications may include:

In the short term: HELLP syndrome (which is a rare liver disorder but poses a threat to life), pregnancy cramps (eclampsia) (which is one of the more severe forms of preeclampsia and includes seizures), in addition to detachment of the placenta (where the placenta separates from the wall of the uterus, thus Cause severe bleeding).

Long-term: higher risk of cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, heart attack, stroke, brain injury, and high blood pressure later in life, plus a higher risk of preeclampsia in the next pregnancy.

Preeclampsia may have an effect on the baby as well, more specifically by having a low birth weight. One potential solution to treating severe preeclampsia is induction of labor before the term of pregnancy, but the potential health risks to the baby depend on how early the birth is . Although preeclampsia is a serious condition and can be fatal if left untreated, your doctor will be able to advise you on the appropriate treatment options for you.

Some women wonder if having preeclampsia would make normal vaginal delivery more complicated, but normal delivery may actually be safer than cesarean delivery in some cases. Your doctor will be able to advise you about the options that are appropriate for your specific situation.

Preeclampsia treatment options

The only treatment for preeclampsia is to have a baby. However, premature labor may pose a risk to the fetus, and in this case your doctor will consider the best treatment options for you, depending on whether the preeclampsia is mild or severe, and how long the pregnancy has passed.

  • Mild preeclampsia. Your doctor may ask you to stay in the hospital, or you can receive treatment at home and you will be asked to monitor your child's movement. You will also need to have follow-up visits more frequently than normal. Your doctor will likely recommend inducing and speeding up your labor at 37 weeks of your pregnancy.
  • Acute preeclampsia. It is usually treated in the hospital. If your condition worsens, your midwife may induce labor at 34 weeks or later. You may be given medications to help lower your blood pressure and prevent seizures. Corticosteroids may also be given to you to help improve liver and platelet function, and to make your baby's lungs more mature.

Preeclampsia is a rare and treatable condition that your doctor will be able to monitor and deal with. And remember that most women who suffer from preeclampsia will give birth to healthy babies, and that is one of the many risks that you should be aware of and notice during your pregnancy.