Preeclampsia is a complication in pregnancy caused due to hypertension and high blood pressure. The condition usually occurs after 20 weeks of pregnancy and may be a sign of many other disorders especially related to kidney and liver. Additionally, preeclampsia is often precluded by gestational hypertension, which is pregnancy-induced hypertension. If you do not diagnose this and leave it untreated, it can be fatal for both the mother and the child.
The main symptom for preeclampsia is the rise in your blood pressure – if your BP is more than 140/90 or fluctuates 4 hours apart, it is abnormal. This is why it is always important to monitor your blood pressure throughout the pregnancy. Other primary symptoms of preeclampsia include:

  • Headaches
  • Blurred vision
  • Fatigue
  • Pain in the upper right abdomen
  • Tendency to bruise easily
  • Shortness of breath
  • signs of kidney problems
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Decreased amount of platelets in your blood

It is not necessary that all these are signs always indicate preeclampsia, as these are also some of the common pregnancy symptoms. Therefore, a thorough check-up must be done before jumping to any conclusions.
Risk Factors and Causes
The following may increase the risk for developing preeclampsia.

  • Women carrying multiple babies
  • A first-time mother
  • Women whose sisters or mothers have preeclampsia
  • Women with kidney problems or high BP
  • Women who are obese or have a BMI of 30 or more

It is believed that the root cause for this condition is genes and the problem begins in the placenta. In the earlier stages of pregnancy, new blood vessels are developed that send blood efficiently to the placenta to nourish the fetus. In women with preeclampsia, these blood vessels become narrower and will not perform efficiently. Instead, they react differently to the signaling of hormones.
Complications and Cure
The risk for you and your baby is more if the condition occurs in the earlier stage of your pregnancy as it demands an induced labor. There are many complications involved in this such as:

  • Premature delivery
  • Affects fetal growth
  • Organ damages
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Placental abruption

The only cure for preeclampsia is the delivery of your baby, even if the baby is not mature rather than putting your life as well as your baby’s life at risk. Even though low-dose aspirin and calcium supplements are taken as preventive measures in some cases, it is always important to consult your doctor before taking any medications.

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    About the Author

    Dr. Ghassan M. Al-Jazayrly, MD

    A graduate of University of Aleppo Faculty of Medicine, Dr. Al-Jazayrly or, as he is colloquially known: Dr. AJ, is an oncologist and hematologist of a Complete Care Community Health Center (CCCHC) with more than 36 years of experience. In recent years, he’s been involved with a non profit organization known as Every Woman Counts (EWC) which provides free breast and cervical cancer screening and diagnostic services to California’s underserved populations in order to eliminate health disparities for low-income individuals.

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