Preeclampsia occurs if there is high blood pressure and presence of protein in the urine during pregnancy. This can occur at any point after the 20th week of pregnancy, but can occur earlier in some cases.
There might also be a drop in the clotting factors or platelets in the blood or indicators of kidney or liver issues. Take note that eclampsia is a severe complication of preeclampsia which is characterized by high blood pressure resulting to seizures during pregnancy.
What are the causes?
Doctors could not identify a specific cause of preeclampsia, but some of the possible causes include:
- Hereditary factors
- Autoimmune disorders
- Blood vessel issues
There are also certain risk factors that increases the chances of developing one such as:
- Being pregnant with several fetuses
- Over the age of 35 years old
- Pregnant for the first time
- History of diabetes, high blood pressure or kidney disorder
The condition could not be definitively prevented. Prompt and regular prenatal care can help the doctor diagnose it earlier and prevent any complications. A diagnosis will allow the doctor to monitor the condition until the delivery date.
Indications of preeclampsia
Always bear in mind that there might be no symptoms. In case symptoms develop, some of the common indications include:
- Continuous headache
- Abrupt weight gain
- Irregular swelling in the face and hands
- Visual changes
During a physical exam, the blood pressure is 140/90 mm Hg or higher. The blood and urine test reveals the presence of protein in the urine and abnormal platelet levels and liver enzymes.
At this point, a non-stress test might be done by the doctor to ensure that the fetus is normally moving. A non-stress test measures the fetal rate changes as the fetus moves. In addition, an ultrasound might be carried out to monitor the fluid levels and health of the fetus.
Remember that the delivery of the baby is the only cure for preeclampsia. During pregnancy, the doctor monitors and manages the condition to ensure that the infant is healthy.
If the woman is at week 37 or later, the doctor might decide to induce labor. At this point, the baby has developed enough and only minimally premature.
For a mild case of preeclampsia, the doctor might suggest the following:
- Adequate bed rest
- Increased intake of water
- Limiting the intake of salt
- Complying with regular appointments with the doctor
Medications might be given by the doctor to lower the blood pressure. In serious cases, hospitalization is required for careful monitoring of the condition. Intravenous medications to reduce the blood pressure or even steroid injections are started to help the lungs of the baby develop more rapidly.