What is preeclampsia?
Pre-eclampsia is defined as high blood pressure and excess protein in the urine after the 20th week of gestation in women with previously normal blood pressure. A slight increase in blood pressure may also be a sign of pre-eclampsia. If left untreated, pre-eclampsia can lead to serious complications - even fatal - for both the mother and the baby.
If you have pre-eclampsia, a complete cure is to give birth to a baby. If you are diagnosed with pre-eclampsia too early in pregnancy, you and your doctor will face a challenging task. Your baby needs more time then, but you need to avoid putting yourself or your baby at risk of serious complications.
Pre-eclampsia may develop gradually but usually begins suddenly, after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Pre-eclampsia can range from mild to severe
Hypertension (high blood pressure) - higher than 140/90 mm of mercury (mm Hg) - measured at 2 times at least 6 hours apart and no more than 7 days apart
Excess protein in urine (proteinuria)
Vision changes, including temporary vision loss, blurred vision, or light sensitivity
Upper abdominal pain, usually below the right rib
Nausea or vomiting
Reduce the amount of urine
Sudden weight gain, usually over 2 pounds (0.
9 kg) a week
Swelling (edema), especially in the face and hands, often accompanied by pre-eclampsia. However, swelling is not considered a reliable sign of pre-eclampsia as it can also occur in normal pregnancies.
When should see a doctor
Contact your doctor right away or go to the emergency room if you have severe headache, blurred vision or severe abdominal pain.
Because headaches, nausea and aches are common complaints during pregnancy, it's difficult to know when the symptoms are just part of the normal pregnancy process and when they refer to problems. Severe problems - especially when you are pregnant for the first time. If you have concerns about symptoms, contact your doctor.
Pre-eclampsia has often been called pregnancy toxicity because it is thought to be caused by a toxin in the mother's blood
Possible causes include:
Not enough blood flows into the uterus
Injury to blood vessels
Malfunction in the immune system
Other disorders of high blood pressure during pregnancy
Pre-eclampsia is 1 in 4 high blood pressure that can occur during pregnancy.
The other three diseases are:
High blood pressure pregnancy. Women with hypertension during pregnancy have increased blood pressure, but there is no excess protein in the urine. Some women with gestational hypertension develop into late-stage pre-eclampsia.
Chronic hypertension. Chronic hypertension is hypertension that appears before the 20th gestation week or lasts more than 12 weeks after birth. Typically, chronic hypertension has occurred before pregnancy but was not detected.
Pre-eclampsia husband on chronic hypertension.
This condition occurs in women who had chronic hypertension before pregnancy and then increased blood pressure even further along with proteinuria during pregnancy.
Pre-eclampsia develops only during pregnancy. Risk factors include:
Have had pre-eclampsia. Having yourself or a family member who has had pre-eclampsia increases the risk of developing this disease.
First pregnancy. The risk of preeclampsia is highest when first pregnant.
New father-son relationship. Compared to being pregnant with the same person, being pregnant with a new husband increases the risk of pre-eclampsia in the second or third trimester.
Year old. The risk of pre-eclampsia is higher for pregnant women under 20 and over 40 years old.
Fat. The risk of pre-eclampsia is higher if you are obese.
Multiple pregnancy Pre-eclampsia is more common in women who are pregnant with twins, triplets or more.
The time between two long pregnancies. This seems to increase the risk of pre-eclampsia.
Diabetes and gestational diabetes.
Women with gestational diabetes are at a higher risk of developing pre-eclampsia later in life.
Having a number of other diseases. Certain pre-pregnancy conditions, such as chronic hypertension, migraine, diabetes, kidney disease, rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, increase the risk of pre-eclampsia.
Other risk factors
Researchers are looking at the link between the following factors and an increased risk of pre-eclampsia:
Other diseases. There is some evidence that both urinary tract infections and periodontal disease during pregnancy are associated with an increased risk of pre-eclampsia. If so, taking antibiotics can help prevent it. This issue needs more research.
Vitamin D deficiency Some evidence suggests that vitamin D deficiency increases the risk of pre-eclampsia and that vitamin D supplementation during the first months of pregnancy may help prevent it.
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