A life threatening condition that may develop after 20 weeks of pregnancy, characterized by rapid increase in blood pressure that could cause death of mother or baby or both. Though it occur in small percentage of pregnant women, the exact causes still remains to be elucidated.
Possible risk factors may include obesity (Basal Metabolic Index > 35), under age (30), family history of preeclampsia, any chronic ailment like diabetes, kidney problems or high blood pressure, carrying multiple births, having multiple partners. Often women suffering from preeclampsia do not show any distinct signs or symptoms.
It can range from very mild to most severe forms. In case one suffers from preeclampsia, it could be well managed if treated at an early stage. Hence, it becomes most vital for all pregnant women to regularly attend all their antennal appointments to get it diagnosed the instant it manifests in the body.
The regular blood pressure readings being monitored during pregnancy are to check any possible sign of preeclampsia so that it could be managed with no harm to mother or the baby in the womb.
Symptoms that Could be Signs of Preeclampsia
• Swelling of eyes, face or hands (some swelling of feet and ankles is normal part of pregnancy)
• Sudden weight gain within few days
More Severe Preeclampsia Symptoms Include
• Persistent and throbbing headaches
• Abdominal pain beneath the ribcage
• Less urination (uncommon in normal pregnancy)
• Vision changes like blurry vision, flashing light sensation, temporary loss of vision
• Nausea and vomiting (also associated with normal pregnancy)
In case of intense headaches, instant swelling accompanied by blurred vision or severe abdominal pain, immediately visit your gynecologist as early detection of this disorder can make a huge difference in its progression and may still offer you safe pregnancy and delivery.
Tests that Check and Confirm Preeclampsia
High Blood pressure check – higher than 140/90 mm/Hg is the cause of concern.
Proteinuria – Urine test to check the presence of protein in the urine.
Blood Analysis that include blood test to analyze level of liver enzymes. High levels of these enzymes are predictor of preeclampsia. Blood test also analyzes platelet count. Platelet count of less than 100,000 (thrombocytopenia) is the risk factor. Blood vessels constriction and blood clots analysis will also be performed to ensure smooth flow of blood to the baby.
Baby development assessment will be done to check if it is safe for the baby to be in womb or needs to be delivered soon.
Treatment to Manage Preeclampsia
Medicines may be injected directly into veins to control the blood pressure and prevent further complications. Steroid injections for speeding up baby’s lungs development may be given after completion of 24 weeks.
In case of mild preeclampsia, when baby is not yet fully developed, it could be managed at home by having bed rest and lying on your left side the maximum time as it relieves the load on blood vessels that supply vital nutrients to the fetus. Drinking extra glasses of water and reducing the salt intake.
Under severe Preeclampsia, delivery could be the best option for the baby if not getting enough blood and oxygen within the womb.