Preeclampsia and PregnancyAuthor: James Pendergraft
Pregnancy is said to be the happiest and most exciting episode in a woman’s life. This is because a pregnant woman will finally be able to fulfill her role of giving birth and being the window through which a new life will be brought to this world. However, despite being a wondrous episode in her life, there are plenty of things that can go wrong during pregnancy. One of these is preeclampsia, which is potentially fatal if this is not treated promptly and properly.
Preeclampsia is a condition that arises in pregnant women wherein hypertension results from a high concentration of protein in her urine. However, what is misleading is the belief that preeclampsia in itself is the cause of all disorders. This is erroneous because preeclampsia is referred to as a set of symptoms instead of being the factor that causes illness. As such, most people seek treatment for preeclampsia instead of seeking treatment for the individual symptoms that arise.
Further compounding matters are the diverse beliefs as to the cause of the disorder. Some people say that inadequate blood supply to the placenta causes the problem. On the other hand, certain health disorders a woman may have are known to exacerbate the condition.
Common Signs and Symptoms of Preeclampsia
1) High blood pressure. This is partly due to the high concentration of protein in a woman’s bloodstream. However, even this one is not entirely foolproof as a method of detecting the blood pressure level of the patient because she may have a normally low blood pressure.
2) Swelling of the hands, feet, and face areas. Although a certain form of swelling is common and is in fact expected during pregnancy, unusual swelling in the limbs as well as in the face areas should be a cause for concern.
3) Concentration of protein in urine. Although this is found mainly through laboratory tests, there are kits that women can use to allow detection of the condition at home. When the blood vessels in the kidney become damaged, the protein spills into the blood.
4) Sudden weight gain. A weight gain of sorts is to be expected during pregnancy. However, when a woman gains at least 6 pounds in a month could be a sign of preeclampsia.
5) Preeclampsia is a problem that all pregnant women face. It usually occurs after the thirty-second week of pregnancy, affecting around 10 percent of pregnant women. Some women experience the problem much earlier, which is actually a rare case. Moreover, women with a history of hypertension, diabetes, diseases of the immune system, or renal diseases have a bigger possibility of contracting the disorder during pregnancy. On the other hand, women with a previous history of preeclampsia have a higher risk of acquiring it during successive pregnancies.
Because of the seriousness of the condition involving preeclampsia, the only solution to it is to abort the pregnancy. This is to avoid further complicating the situation, which may further imperil the life of the mother.
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What is Preeclampsia?Author: Kursha Pearson
Congratulations on your pregnancy. You have been to your first midwife appointment and you have been told about all of the things you should look out for. One of these is preeclampsia. You have heard about it before but don't really know what it is. Well today I am going to talk about preeclampsia, the causes and risks, signs and symptoms of preeclampsia, management of preeclampsia and complications of preeclampsia so that you fully understand the importance of looking out for the warning signs. I can talk first hand about preeclampsia as I had it during my first pregnancy.
Preeclampsia is a common, but potentially life threatening complication of pregnancy. It is characterised by high blood pressure, protein in the urine and disturbances in vision. Preeclampsia occurs most often in late pregnancy and affects around 5 to 10% of pregnant women. In very rare instances it occurs after pregnancy. Up to 10% of women with preeclampsia will develop the severe form of the disease. It is estimated that around 200 babies in Australia die because of preeclampsia each year. Women with preeclampsia with uncontrolled high blood pressure are likely to deliver their baby early, either by vaginal or caesarean section. The baby is premature and may need intensive care and the mother may be in a serious condition.
Risk Factors For Preeclampsia
- Assisted reproduction.
- Barrier methods of contraception.
- First pregnancy or first pregnancy with a new partner.
- History of diabetes.
- Presence of essential hypertension (high blood pressure).
- Previous kidney disease.
- Teenage mothers and women over 35 year of age.
- Twins or more.
- History of Lupus.
Preeclampsia is common but difficult to predict. Screening tests during early pregnancy are not specific therefore health care professionals have to 'wait and see' if the woman develops preeclampsia. Routine antenatal blood pressure monitoring and urinalysis can help screening for preeclampsia. It is very important that you attend all of your antenatal appointments.
A diagnosis of preeclampsia is made when blood pressure at 20 weeks gestation or more is 140/90 mmHg or higher over 3 or more consecutive readings. Severe preeclampsia occurs when successive blood pressure readings exceed 160/110 mmHg with or without significant protein in the urine.
Pregnant women experiencing preeclampsia are likely to complain of a headache and possibly a distinctive pain under the ribs. This is referred pain from the liver. Abdominal swelling puts pressure on the liver and kidneys. Protein is also usually present in the urine and the face and ankles can swell. The fetus may stop growing which is a sign that the placenta is not functioning properly.
If you are found to have slightly high blood pressure during your pregnancy then oral antihypertensive drugs are given in the absence of any other symptoms. A one-off high reading may require a short stay in hospital to check if subsequent readings are also high. The woman is most likely admitted to hospital if the other signs and symptoms are present. Decisions will then be made about the timing of the delivery. The only cure is to deliver the baby which ultimately could result in complications of premature birth.
High blood pressure is a significant problem during delivery. Delivery is undertaken if the mother is vomiting, has increased liver pain or if she is generally worsening in condition. A caesarean section is performed when gestation is approximately 34 weeks or earlier and a vaginal delivery is preferred later in the pregnancy but only if the blood pressure is controlled and the baby is in good health.
Preeclampsia signs can persist for as long as 3 months after birth but usually disappear entirely in most women.
If preeclampsia is left untreated the blood pressure can become so high that the woman is at increased risk of seizures. Symptoms of preeclampsia are right upper abdominal pain, headache, disturbance in vision and alteration in mental state. Permanent injury to the brain, liver and kidneys have been reported in uncontrolled preeclampsia. Reduced placental blood flow leads to less oxygen and nutrient supply to the baby. Fetal growth slows and a preterm delivery is associated with breathing difficulties for the baby when it is born.
I hope this article has made you aware of the signs and symptoms to look out for and the importance of getting treatment as soon as possible for the safety of your baby and your own health. Good luck in your pregnancy.
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