Preeclampsia Causes, Diagnosis & Treatments

Preeclampsia Causes, Diagnosis & Treatments

What is Preeclampsia?

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) states that preeclampsia is a serious blood pressure disorder that can affect all of the organs in a woman’s body. A woman has preeclampsia when she has high blood pressure and other signs that her organ systems are not working normally.

One of these signs is proteinuria (an abnormal amount of protein in the urine). A woman with preeclampsia whose condition is worsening will develop other signs and symptoms known as “severe features.” These include a low number of platelets in the blood, abnormal kidney or liver function, pain over the upper abdomen, changes in vision, fluid in the lungs, or a severe headache. A very high blood pressure reading also is considered a severe feature.

What are the causes?

  • First-time pregnancy
  • Over 40 years of age
  • Obesity
  • History of chronic hypertension and/or kidney disease
  • Pregnant with more than one fetus
  • Previous experience with preeclampsia
  • Have had IVF

Signs and Symptoms

  • A headache that doesn’t go away
  • Nausea and vomiting in the second half of the pregnancy
  • Swelling in the face and/or hands
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Sudden weight gain
  • Upper abdomen pain
  • Shoulder pain
  • Changes in eyesight or seeing spots

How is preeclampsia managed without severe features?

Managing preeclampsia may include a visit to the hospital or frequent trips to an outpatient facility. If you have access to an in-home health care professional, you may also stay home and be monitored. 

Your doctor may ask you to log your babies kick count as well as, measure your blood pressure. Weekly and sometimes twice weekly appointments are most likely needed when diagnosed with preeclampsia.

How is preeclampsia managed with severe features?

Severe symptoms are typically treated at the hospital. It’s suggested that if your condition stabilizes and you’re at 34 weeks that your baby should be delivered. If your condition is stable before 34 weeks, your doctor may suggest that it’s okay to wait for a full-term delivery. 

Corticosteroids are hormones given to mature a fetus lungs, to prevent arthritis or other medical conditions. These may be given to help reduce your blood pressure and prevent you from having seizures. Prompt delivery would be needed if your or the babies condition gets worse. 

What are my baby′s risks?

If you are diagnosed with preeclampsia during pregnancy, immediate delivery may be required even if the baby is not at full growth. According to ACOG, preterm babies have an increased risk of serious complications. Some preterm complications last a lifetime and require ongoing medical care. We recommend a consultation with a CWC professional (please fill out the form below) so your risks can be evaluated as soon as possible. 

What are my risks?

ACOG also states that women who’ve had preeclampsia—especially those whose babies were born preterm—have an increased risk later in life of cardiovascular disease and kidney disease, including heart attack, stroke, and high blood pressure. Having preeclampsia once increases the risk of having it again in a future pregnancy. It can also lead to seizures, a condition called eclampsia. It also can lead to HELLP syndrome.

What is HELLP Syndrome?

Hemolysis – Elevated Liver enzymes – Low Platelet count

This is when red blood cells are damaged or destroyed, blood clotting is impaired, and the liver can bleed internally, causing chest or abdominal pain. HELLP syndrome is a medical emergency. Women can die from HELLP syndrome or have lifelong health problems as a result.
Source: ACOG

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