PREECLAMPSIA - Recognize the Signs

PREECLAMPSIA: Recognize the Signs


What is Preeclampsia?

It is a multisystem disorder characterized by elevated blood pressure and often a significant amount of protein in the urine during your pregnancy.  It is caused by a dysfunction between the placenta and mother’s vascular system. It usually occurs after 20 weeks of pregnancy and resolves after delivery.


What are the risk factors?

Risk factors include preexisting diabetes, first baby, multiple gestations, advanced age, chronic kidney disease and previous diagnosis of preeclampsia.


What the symptoms of Preeclampsia?

Symptoms can be mild or severe. Mild preeclampsia is characterized by high blood pressure, swelling and protein in the urine.  Severe preeclampsia symptoms include headaches, visual disturbances, abdominal pain and urinary frequency.


How is it diagnosed?

You doctor can diagnose preeclampsia by performing an exam. The doctor will check your blood pressure and get a urine sample.  Your doctor may also have you collect your urine for 24 hours.  Blood will also be drawn to check for any abnormalities.


How does it affect me?

If it is not treated, it can potentially cause harm to your liver, kidney and heart or you may have seizures.


How does it affect my baby?

The hypertension you experience from preeclampsia can causes less blood to go to the placenta, which decreases the nutrients and oxygen to your baby. This could cause your baby to be with born with a low birth weight. If detected early and treated with good prenatal care, you can deliver a healthy baby.


How is treated?

Medications to lower your blood pressure and prevent seizures are used to treat preeclampsia. Your doctor can go over treatment options that best suit you.


Kirstie Cunningham, MD, FACOG President, Metro Health and Wellness, LLC

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