What is Preeclampsia?

Preeclampsia is typically apregnancy condition that occurs normally after the 20th week. High blood pressure, increased protein levels in the urine are primary symptoms of this condition which results in swelling (edema) of the legs, face, hands and sometimes entire body.

What Are The Symptoms?

Preeclampsia symptoms on very rare occasions can show up before 20 weeks, but most often occurs during the second half of pregnancy. In fact, it can even occur during labour or after delivery too.

If not diagnosed and treated early, preeclampsia can develop into complications and pose a serious threat to both the baby and mother.

What Causes Preeclampsia?

Though it is still unclear what causes preeclampsia, recent studies show that it could be related to the placenta not anchoring itself deep enough into the wall uterus. As a result, the arteries in that area fail to dilate and hence limit blood supply to the placenta. The reason behind the abnormal anchoring is also unclear, but experts say that it could have a close bearing to the underlying medical conditions (diabetes and high blood pressure) of the mother.

There is also evidence that restricted blood flow to the placenta, may trigger the release of high levels of certain placental proteins into your bloodstream. This can set off a complex chain of reactions that includes constricted blood vessels (leading to high blood pressure), damage to the vessel walls (leading to swelling and protein in your urine), reduced blood volume, and changes in blood clotting, which in turn can cause a host of other problems.

If you start bleeding or have contractions, you’ll need to be hospitalized. What happens then will depend on how far along you are in your pregnancy, how heavy the bleeding is, and how you and your baby are doing. If you are near full-term, your baby will have to be delivered by c-section right away.

Can It Be Managed?

If diagnosed early, preeclampsia can be brought under control with the constant monitoring of your blood pressure.

If you’re not yet 37 weeks and condition is mild and not particularly affected the baby’s growth, there is nothing much to worry.

If its mild and your already into your 37 week or more, your doctor will probably plan on inducing labour after assessing your cervix. If it has started to thin out and dilate, a c-section will be performed.

If it’s a case of severe preeclampsia, you will need special medical attention for which you will most definitely be asked get hospitalised. You’ll be given magnesium sulphate intravenously to prevent seizures, as well as medication to lower your blood pressure if it’s extremely high.

After delivery, you will be closely monitored for a few days to keep tabs on your blood pressure and to watch for signs of other complications.

What Are The Risk Factors?

The following conditions increase the chances of a woman developing preeclampsia:

  • Chronic high blood pressure
  • Having disorders like Diabetes or kidney disease
  • Obesity – with a BMI of 26 or more
  • If you’re older than 35 years
  • Preeclampsia in a previous pregnancy
  • If you’re carrying multiples – twins, triplets, or more.
  • A history of preeclampsia or high blood pressure during pregnancy running in the family

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