What is Preeclampsia
Preeclampsia, also known as Toxemia of pregnancy, is a problem that some women suffer during pregnancy. Blood pressure increases and proteins appear in the urine. This usually happens during the second half of pregnancy.
The cause of preeclampsia is unknown.
Preeclampsia Risk factors
Preeclampsia is more common in African-American women and in women 40 and older. Among the factors that can increase the probability of suffering from preeclampsia are the following:
- Pre-eclampsia in a previous pregnancy
- First pregnancy
- Family history, for example, a mother or sister who has had the condition
- Being pregnant with more than one baby, as in the case of twins
- High and chronic blood pressure
- Renal disease
- Overweight or obesity
- Antiphospholipid antibody syndrome
It is possible that women with preeclampsia do not have symptoms. It is important to see a doctor regularly during pregnancy to quickly detect problems.
In women who have symptoms, preeclampsia can cause the following:
- Inflammation or water retention
- Feet or ankles noticeably swollen, outside the normal swelling that occurs during pregnancy
- Swelling of the face and upper body
- Eye sight problems
- Upper abdomen pain
- Nausea or vomiting
- Feel difficult to breathe
- Chest pain
- Decrease in the amount of urine
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. You will have a physical examination. Preeclampsia is diagnosed if a pregnant woman has high blood pressure and significant protein in the urine.
Tests may include the following:
- Measurement of blood pressure to know if blood pressure is 140/90 or higher
- Urinalysis to detect high levels of proteins
- Blood tests to check the general health of the body and liver and kidney function
Treating preeclampsia promptly may prevent progression to eclampsia, which are seizures caused by severe preeclampsia.
The treatment may include the following:
Birth of the baby
The only way to cure preeclampsia is to give birth. The decision to give birth depends on a combination of factors, for example:
- Number of weeks of pregnancy
- Condition of mother and baby
- Gravity of preeclampsia
- Risk of other complications of pregnancy
Childbirth can occur naturally or can be induced. If there are life-threatening circumstances for the mother or baby, a cesarean section may be necessary. During delivery, you may need medications to control blood pressure and prevent seizures.
Mild preeclampsia can often be treated with rest and medication if the baby is near the due date. Your doctor may recommend medications for the following:
- Lower blood pressure
- Reduce the risk of seizures
- Promote the development of the lungs of the fetus in case the baby is born prematurely
Treatment at home
If your situation at home is stable and you live near the hospital, your doctor may recommend that you rest at home in a quiet environment. Home treatment may include:
- Frequent readings of blood pressure
- Rest enough
- Get help to prepare meals, perform housework and take care of family members
If the preeclampsia is moderate or the atmosphere of your house is not relaxing, your doctor can intern it. The treatment may include the following:
- Lower blood pressure with medication
- Administer medications to prevent preeclampsia
- Checking your baby’s health status
- Be sure to rest well
How to Prevent Preeclampsia
To help reduce the likelihood of developing preeclampsia or other complications during pregnancy, take the following steps:
- Have early prenatal care and on a regular basis. Early treatment of pre-eclampsia can prevent eclampsia.
- If you have high and chronic blood pressure, you should control it during pregnancy.
- Obtain doctor’s approval before taking any over-the-counter or prescription medication.
- Do not smoke or drink alcohol during pregnancy.
- Eat healthy foods on a regular basis and take prenatal vitamins.
- Ask your doctor if you should take a calcium supplement daily. In women who eat little calcium, supplements can reduce the risk of preeclampsia, eclampsia, and premature delivery.
- Your doctor may recommend that you take aspirin to reduce the risk of preeclampsia.