What is preeclampsia?
Preeclampsia is the name given to a pregnancy disorder that appears when a woman is 20 weeks pregnant. High blood pressure and excessive amount of protein in a woman’s urine are two main features of this condition. At the beginning, the blood pressure is not very high, but when preeclampsia is untreated, it progresses and can cause very serious complications for the mother and for the child.
Symptoms of preeclampsia
Preeclampsia can be mild, moderate, or severe. The most frequent symptoms of this disease are high blood pressure and proteinuria, or excessive levels of protein in the urine. Some women may experience severe headaches or nausea and vomiting. Certain problems with eyes may occur, such as blurred vision, temporary loss of vision or hypersensitivity to light. Moreover, there are cases where upper abdominal pain on the right side appears, but also, dizziness, reduced urination and sudden gaining of the weight may occur as some of the symptoms. Sometimes this disease is accompanied with swelling of the hands and face as well.
Complications of preeclampsia
The delivery of the baby is the only solution when preeclampsia is diagnosed, and in most cases, healthy babies are born. Because of preeclampsia, induced labor and delivery by Caesarian section are necessary. The complications that usually occur as the results of preeclampsia are the lack of blood flow to the placenta, placental abruption and HELLP syndrome, as well as eclampsia and cardiovascular disease.
- Due to preeclampsia and the fact that it affects the arteries that transmit the blood to the placenta, the placenta is not supplied with needed amounts of blood, so it is very common that the baby does not get enough oxygen and nutrients. All this can cause serious complications for the baby, such as slow growth or low birth weight and problems with breathing.
- Preeclampsia may be also responsible for the placenta’s separation from the inner wall of the uterus. As a result of placental abruption, severe bleeding that is dangerous for the mother and the child may occur.
- HELLP syndrome is a complication also induced by preeclampsia and includes hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes and low platelet count. The main warning signs for this syndrome are nausea and vomiting, as well as headache and pain in upper right abdominal region.
- Eclampsia is a very serious complication of preeclampsia, because it can cause some damages to the brain, liver or kidneys, whereas in most serious cases, coma and death of the mother and child may be the final outcome.
- Untreated preeclampsia may lead to some cardiovascular disease also.