Preeclampsia is also called pregnancy-induced hypertension, toxemia of pregnancy, or acute hypertensive disease of pregnancy. Preeclampsia acts as a disorder that occurs during pregnancy, which is related to pregnancy-induced hypertension. Characterized by high blood pressure and the presence of protein in the urine, preeclampsia usually occurs after the 20th week of pregnancy. Sometimes referred to as pregnancy toxemia, preeclampsia can range from mild to severe. Without proper care and management, preeclampsia can cause a number of serious health complications, including preterm labor, seizures, and even death.
The hypertension component of Preeclampsia is present when the systolic blood pressure is greater than 140 mm Hg or the diastolic blood pressure is greater than 90 mm Hg in a woman known to be normotensive prior to pregnancy. The diagnosis requires 2 such abnormal blood pressure measurements recorded at least 6 hours apart.
Causes of Preeclampsia
The precise cause of Preeclampsia is unknown. But there are some causes which will increase the risk of suffering Preeclampsia. These causes include:
1, Having chronic hypertension (high blood pressure before becoming pregnant)
2, Having diabetes, kidney disease, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus (SLE), or scleroderma
3, Having developed high blood pressure or preeclampsia during a previous pregnancy (especially if these conditions occurred early in the pregnancy).
4, Being obese prior to pregnancy
5, Being pregnant under the age of 20 or over the age of 40
6, Being pregnant with more than one baby
7, Insufficient blood flow to the uterus
8, Damage to the blood vessels
9, A problem with the immune system
People who are at the risk of Preeclampsia
Preeclampsia occurs in 5% to 8% of all pregnancies in the United States. Though any pregnant women can develop preeclampsia, the vast majority of sufferers are women experiencing their first pregnancies.
Other risk factors area also known to increase your chances of developing the condition, including:
1, having a personal history of preeclampsia (in a previous pregnancy)
2, having a family history of preeclampsia (mother or sister developed it)
3, being obese
4, being teenager or a women over the age of 40
5, having a history of high blood pressure
6, experiencing a multiple pregnancy
7, suffering from an autoimmune disorder (such as Lupus or Multiple Sclerosis)
How to recognize Preeclampsia
The most common symptoms of preeclampsia are:
1, High blood pressure
2, Excessive swelling in hands, face and other parts of your body
3, Abdominal pain
4, Large amounts of protein in your urine
5, Small amounts of urine
6, Blood in your urine
7, Severe headaches
8, Vomiting blood
11 Double vision
12 Blurred vision
13 Rapid weight gain (more than 2 pounds per week)
14 Nausea and vomiting
How Preeclampsia can affect you and your baby
There are vast majority of preeclampsia sufferers who experienced only mild symptoms, but some pregnant women can develop severe preeclampsia. When severe, preeclampsia can create a number of health complications for mom:
1, increased risk of stroke (due to high blood pressure)
2, kidney and liver dysfunction
3, eclampsia (a condition which causes the development of seizures)
4, HELLP syndrome (the most severe form or preeclampsia)
Preeclampsia, if left untreated, it can lead to abruptio placenta, cerebral hemorrhage, cerebral vascular accident, acute renal failure, and intrauterine growth restrictions for the fetus.
1, Intrauterine Growth Restriction
Due to high blood pressure levels and narrow uterine arteries, blood flow to your placenta can become restricted. This means that your baby will receive less oxygen and nutrients while in the womb. As a result, your baby may not develop properly or could be born with a low birthweight.
If your baby does not receive enough oxygen from the placenta, he will begin extracting oxygen from fuel stores in his body. This produces a toxic byproduct known as lactic acid. If this lactic acid builds up to high levels, it can result in acidosis, which can render your baby unconscious.
3, Preterm Birth
The biggest complication of Preeclampsia is preterm birth. Because preeclampsia can become dangerous for both mother and baby, it is sometimes necessary to deliver baby before 36 weeks. This can result in possible developmental problems and even fetal death.
Treatment for Preeclampsia
1, Allow frequent monitoring of both you and your baby by your doctor. When a woman has been diagnosed with preeclampsia, it’s very important to monitor the situation closely. Monitoring includes frequent ultrasounds, biophysical profiles, non-stress tests, blood pressure checks, weigh-ins for the mom and checking the amount of protein present in the mom’s urine.
2, Go on bed rest, either at home or in the hospital, if it’s too early to deliver the baby. For mild cases of preeclampsia, bed rest at home can be indicated. Bed rest helps increase blood flow to the baby and helps lower the mom’s blood pressure. In cases of severe preeclampsia, bed rest at the hospital is likely. Being at the hospital can allow for closer monitoring of both the mom and the baby.
3, Take medications prior to delivery to help with preeclampsia. Corticosteroids can help mature the baby’s lungs in case early delivery occurs. Taking drugs, such as hydralazine, can help lower the mom’s blood pressure and prevent preeclampsia from progressing. Your personal doctor will know which medications are best for you and your baby.
4, Deliver the baby. Delivery is the only real cure for preeclampsia. If the baby is at or near full term and a woman is diagnosed with preeclampsia, labor may be immediately induced or a caesarean section scheduled. If it’s too early to deliver the baby, doctors may try to hold off delivery using the other treatments described in this article until delivery is absolutely necessitated.
5, Use the drug magnesium sulfate during labor and delivery. For women with preeclampsia, magnesium sulfate can help prevent seizures in the mom during delivery and help increase blood flow to the baby and the placenta. IVs are often used to administer magnesium sulfate to the mom during delivery.
Depending on the disease severity, the management varies. There have been several nonpharmacological therapies shown to be helpful in the prevention or, at the least, the progression of preeclampsia. “Eight milligrams of baby aspirin can be of some benefit to the at-risk mother as well as 2 grams of calcium daily,” says Atlas. Women should avoid taking vitamin E while pregnant because of the higher risk of developing preeclampsia, Atlas adds.