A serious problem of pregnancy. It involves blood pressure, kidney function, and the central nervous system. Preeclampsia (pregnancy-induced hypertension) may occur from the 20th week of pregnancy until 7 days after delivery. Eclampsia is severe preeclampsia.
FREQUENT SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
Significant blood pressure rise, even if still in the normal range.
Puffiness in the face, hands, and feet that is worse in the morning.
Excessive weight gain (more than a pound a week during the last trimester).
Continued blood pressure rise.
Continued swelling and puffiness.
Worsening of above symptoms.
Seizures or coma.
Unknown. A dysfunction of the placenta may start the process that leads to other problems.
RISK INCREASES WITH
Diabetes prior to pregnancy or diabetes gestational.
High blood pressure before becoming pregnant.
Kidney or renal disease or blood vessel disease.
First pregnancy or first pregnancy with a new partner.
Preeclampsia in a previous pregnancy.
Family history of preeclampsia or eclampsia, heart disease, or high blood pressure.
Multiple gestation (twins, triplets, etc.).
Mother's age over 40 or less than 20.
None specific. Low-dose aspirin may help. Regular prenatal care will help find abnormal blood pressure early.
The cure is deliverance of the baby. Complications for mother and baby can often be prevented with prompt diagnosis and treatment. The symptoms usually resolve days to weeks after delivery. If premature labor occurs, the newborn's survival chances depend on its maturity.
Mother—Stroke, kidney failure, seizures, high blood pressure, hemorrhage, pulmonary edema, heart failure, and death.
Baby—Premature birth, low birth weight, intrauterine growth restriction, and stillbirth.
DIAGNOSIS & TREATMENT
Diagnostic tests may include blood pressure tests, blood studies, 24-hour urine study (to check the protein levels), and ultrasound (to assess fetal development).
Treatment will depend on the severity of the symptoms and the maturity of the fetus. Home care is acceptable for mild symptoms, but hospital care is necessary if the condition worsens and/or early delivery is necessary. Eclampsia, because of seizure activity, is more likely to require hospital care and rapid delivery. This is often accomplished through cesarean section.
If you are at home, weigh yourself daily and keep a record. Use a home test to check for protein in the urine (instructions will be provided).
Antihypertensive (blood pressure) drugs may be prescribed.
Anticonvulsants to prevent seizures. Magnesium sulfate may be prescribed or given by vein (IV) if labor has started.
Rest often. This is important to control preeclampsia. Rest on your left side to help blood circulation.
You will be advised if a special diet is needed.
NOTIFY OUR OFFICE IF
You or a family member has symptoms of preeclampsia at any stage of pregnancy.
The following occur during treatment: Severe headache or vision changes, weight gain of 3 or more pounds in 24 hours, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cramping abdominal pains, or excessive irritability.