Preeclampsia

What is Preeclampsia?

It is a condition marked by high blood pressure and high protein in urine, developed by pregnant women during the second half of their pregnancy. The exact causes are unknown but researchers suggest that high body fat, poor nutrition, genetics and insufficient blood flow to the uterus play a part. This means that women with a history of obesity or women whose mother or sister had preeclampsia are at risk of having it as well. Other risk factors include women who had high blood pressure before pregnancy, are carrying more than one fetus, are over 40 or have a history of diabetes or kidney disease.

Symptoms

Swelling in your hands, face, eyes and feet are symptoms of preeclampsia although swollen feet not accompanied by other symptoms may be normal. Other symptoms include blood pressure over 140/90, abdominal pain, reduced or no urine output, excessive headaches, sudden weight gain (over 1/2 days), blurry vision and dizziness. If you experience these symptoms seek medical attention immediately.

Treatment

There is no form of treatment and this may worry you however if it is detected early it is manageable. It is therefore crucial to stick to the antenatal checks and tests throughout the pregnancy. If you are 37 weeks or above the doctor may want to induce labor or perform a C-section as this is the best way to stop the effects of preeclampsia on the unborn child such as epilepsy, cerebral palsy, hearing and vision problems and, seizures, stroke, bleeding in the lungs and bleeding after delivery in the mother. If the baby has not reached 37 weeks the doctor may prescribe hospital bed rest for continuous monitoring of the mothers blood pressure and urine and baby’s heart rate as well giving medicines to lower blood pressure and prevent seizures until the baby can be safely delivered. After delivery signs of preeclampsia normally disappear between 1-6 weeks.

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