Home > Health Conditions During Pregnancy > Preeclampsia


What is preeclampsia?

 Preeclampsia  (PE) a condition in pregnancy characterized by high blood pressure, sometimes with fluid retention and proteinuria. It usually develops during the second or third trimester.

PE is one of the most serious conditions during pregnancy it can turn life threatening for both the mother and child. Formerly called toxemia.

Are There Different Types of Preeclampsia?

Depending on the etiology and symptoms it’s classified into:

Preeclampsia-eclampsia: It usually occurs within the 20th week of gestation.  This is the most common PE it usually develops from Gestational hypertension.

Preeclampsia superimposed on chronic hypertension: Any pregnant women that has diabetes, mellitus, lupus erythematous, chronic kidney disorders are in high risk of superimposed preeclampsia.

Atypical Preeclampsia: Women experience all the symptoms of the condition without high blood pressure or protein in the urine.

What Causes Preeclampsia?

The exact triggering factors for preeclampsia are still unknown.  Experts believe it begins in abnormalities in the placenta.

Preeclampsia Risk Factors

There are many risk factors such as:

  • Being pregnant with multiple fetuses
  • Being overweight
  • Pregnancy in early teens
  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Being pregnant over the age of 35
  • First pregnancy
  • History of kidney diseases
  • History of Lupus
  • Poor diet and nutrition
  • Family history of preeclampsia
  • Nulliparity

Preeclampsia Pathophysiology

If the placenta has any abnormality during growth it eventually leads to PE.  The abnormal kidney functioning also causes essential proteins to leak in the urine developing symptoms of proteinuria.

How To Prevent Preeclampsia

To decrease your chances of developing preeclampsia consider the following:

  • Stay well hydrated
  • Avoid junk foods
  • Do light exercise
  • Follow a low sodium diet to help keep your blood pressure low
  • Make sure to intake protein in your diet
  • If you have diabetes maintain your blood sugars in control
  • If you’re overweight consider loosing weight

What Are The Signs And Symptoms of Preeclampsia

What Are The Possible Complications of Preeclampsia?

Having PE causes conflicts with the blood flow to the placenta. It then causes complications by interrupting the oxygen and nutrient supply to the fetus.

Effects on the baby

  • Cerebral palsy
  • Stillbirth
  • Learning disabilities
  • Epilepsy
  • Breathing difficulties after birth
  • Intrauterine growth restriction
  • Hearing problems

Risks to Mother

Postpartum Preeclampsia

Many women experience postpartum preeclampsia. It usually progresses within 48 hours of delivery. You will need to seek medication attention and possibly take medication to avoid seizure and additional complications.

Preeclampsia Vs Eclampsia

If you don’t seek medical attention PE then will development in to eclampsia. This condition can escalate to life threatening pregnancy categorized by severe seizures.

Preeclampsia Diagnosis

In order to diagnose preeclampsia your doctor will conduct a blood pressure over 140/90 mmHg. The two readings are taken within 6 hours apart. During your prenatal checkup the symptoms are detected in a blood and urine test.

Other procedures to detect preeclampsia:

  • Examination of the eyes
  • Urine test
  • Physical examination

Preeclampsia Differential Diagnosis

  • Acute fatty liver of pregnancy
  • Chronic renal disease
  • Hemolytic-uremic syndrome
  • Gallbladder and pancreatic disorders
  • Primary seizure disorders
  • Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura
  • Chronic hypertension without preeclampsia
  • Antiphospholipid syndrome

Preeclampsia Treatment
And Management

The only way to stop preeclampsia is delivery of the baby.

Treatment of Mild Preeclampsia

Any women having mild preeclampsia before full-term are always monitored closely in the hospital.

Monitoring The Mother

  • Urine test
  • Monitoring fluid intake
  • Blood tests
  • Monitoring blood pressure

Fetal Monitoring

  • Non-stress tests
  • Biophysical profile
  • Doppler ultrasound
  • Fetal ultrasound

Treatment of Severe Preeclampsia

Possible treatment for preeclampsia may include:

Medications to lower blood pressure: The medication given to help lower blood pressure is called antihypertensive. This medication is used only if your blood pressure it’s hazardous high. 

Corticosteroids: Taking corticosteroids can momentarily improve liver and platelet function to help elongate your pregnancy. This medication is usually prescribed for severe preeclampsia or HELLP syndrome.

Anticonvulsant medications: This medication is usually prescribes when preeclampsia is severe.  The magnesium sulfate help prevent any seizures.

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