High Blood Pressure in Pregnancy Eclampsia Preeclampsia Causes Symptoms Diagnosis Pregnant Health
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What is eclampsia? Preeclampsia vs. eclampsia Eclampsia is a condition that only occurs
during pregnancy and causes seizures, usually late in the pregnancy. It is a rare condition,
affecting 1 in every 2,000-3,000 pregnancies every year.
The condition follows a high blood pressuredisorder called preeclampsia. In preeclampsia, high
blood pressure levels in the mother reduce the supply of blood to the fetus. This can
mean that the fetus does not receive as much oxygen and nutrients as it should.
Many of the pregnancies affected by eclampsia or preeclampsia are first pregnancies. Around
70 percent of cases in the United States are in first-time pregnancies.
While eclampsia can be fatal if untreated, it is very rare for pregnant women to die
from the condition in developed countries. Globally, eclampsia accounts for approximately 14
percent of maternal deaths. In the majority of cases, preeclampsia symptoms are mild and
do not require any intervention other than monitoring and possibly diet change.
Preeclampsia vs. eclampsia Eclampsia is the final stage of preeclampsia
and requires immediate medical attention. Most cases are detected early in the pregnancy
before they can progress to eclampsia. While there is no cure for preeclampsia, doctors
will often prescribe medications to lower blood pressure or anticonvulsant medications to
prevent seizures. With both preeclampsia and eclampsia, the
only cure is for the affected mother to give birth. Mild cases of preeclampsia can be monitored
throughout pregnancy to determine whether or not it is safe to let the pregnancy go
to term. More severe cases might require immediate
intervention, often in the form of induction or cesarean delivery. Most commonly, a cesarean
delivery will be required to prevent the rise in blood pressure that is often seen during
childbirth. What are the symptoms of eclampsia?
Because preeclampsia can lead to eclampsia, you may have symptoms of both conditions.
However, some of your symptoms may be due to other conditions, such as kidney disease
or diabetes. It’s important to tell your doctor about any conditions you have so they
may rule out other possible causes. The following are common symptoms of preeclampsia:
swelling in your face or hands headaches
excessive weight gain nausea and vomiting
vision problems difficulty urinating
The following are common symptoms of eclampsia: seizures
loss of consciousness agitation
headaches or muscle pain upper right abdominal pain What are the causes eclampsia?
Eclampsia often follows preeclampsia, which is characterized by high blood pressure after
the 20th week of pregnancy and protein in the urine. If your preeclampsia worsens and
affects your brain, causing seizures, you have developed eclampsia.
Doctors don’t know what causes preeclampsia, but they can explain how the symptoms of preeclampsia
can lead to eclampsia. High blood pressure
Preeclampsia is when your blood pressure, or the force of blood against the walls of
your arteries, becomes high enough to damage your arteries and other blood vessels. Damage
to your arteries may restrict blood flow. It can produce swelling in the blood vessels
in your brain and to your growing baby. If this swelling interferes with your brain’s
ability to function, seizures may occur. Proteinuria
Preeclampsia commonly affects kidney function. Protein in your urine, also known as proteinuria,
is a key sign of the condition. Each time you have a doctor’s appointment, your urine
will be tested for protein. Typically, your kidneys filter waste from
your blood and create urine from these wastes. However, the kidneys try to retain nutrients
in the blood, such as protein, for redistribution to your body. If the kidneys’ filters, called
glomeruli, are damaged, protein can leak through them and excrete into your urine.
What are the Risk Factors of eclampsia? If you have or have had severe preeclampsia,
you may be at risk for eclampsia. Other risk factors for seizures during pregnancy
include: hypertension (high blood pressure)
headaches being older than 35 years or younger than
20 years pregnancy with twins
first-time pregnancy history of poor diet or malnutrition
diabetes or another condition that affects your blood vessels
Eclampsia and your baby Preeclampsia and eclampsia affect the placenta,
which is the organ that delivers oxygen, blood, and nutrients from the mother’s blood to
the fetus. When high blood pressure reduces blood flow in the heart and vessels, the placenta
may be unable to function properly. This may result in your baby being born with a low
birth weight or other health problems. Problems with the placenta often require preterm
delivery for the health and safety of the baby. In rare cases, these conditions cause
stillbirth. How is eclampsia diagnosed?
If you already have a preeclampsia diagnosis or have a history of it, your doctor will
order tests to determine if your preeclampsia has happened again or gotten worse. If you
don’t have preeclampsia, your doctor will order tests for preeclampsia as well as others
to determine why you’re having seizures. These tests can include:
Blood tests Your doctor may order several types of blood
tests to assess your condition. These tests include a hematocrit, which measures how
many red blood cells you have in your blood, and a platelet count to see how well your
blood is clotting. Blood tests will also help examine your kidney and liver function.
Creatinine test Creatinine is a waste product created by the
muscles. Your kidneys should filter most of the creatinine from your blood, but if the
glomeruli get damaged, excess creatinine will remain in the blood. Having too much creatinine
in your blood may indicate preeclampsia, but it doesn’t always.
Urine tests Your doctor may order urine tests to check
for the presence of protein and its excretion rate.
What are the treatments for eclampsia? Delivering your baby is the only way to cure
preeclampsia and eclampsia. If your doctor diagnoses you with preeclampsia, they may
monitor your condition and treat you with medication to prevent it from turning into
eclampsia. Medications and monitoring will help keep your blood pressure within a safer
range until the baby is mature enough to deliver. If you do develop eclampsia, your doctor may
deliver your baby early, depending on how far along you are in your pregnancy. Early
delivery may occur between 32 and 36 weeks of pregnancy if you have life-threatening
symptoms or if medication doesn’t work. You may need to be hospitalized until you
can deliver your baby. Medications
Medications to prevent seizures, called anticonvulsants drugs, may be necessary. You may need medication
to lower blood pressure if you have high blood pressure. You may also be placed on a low-dose
aspirin. Home care
Pay attention to your diet. Ensure you get enough calcium. You may have to go in for
fetal monitoring and checkups more often. This monitoring may be done from your own
home if those services are offered in your area.
Taking all prescribed medications, getting rest, and monitoring any changes in your condition
are critical for managing preeclampsia and eclampsia. With proper care and careful monitoring,
you can deliver without complications. What is the long-term outlook for eclampsia?
Your symptoms should disappear once you have your baby. That said, you will still have
a greater chance of blood pressure issues in your next pregnancy.
If complications occur, you may have a medical emergency such as placental abruption. Placental
abruption is a condition that causes the placenta to detach from the uterus. This requires immediate
emergency cesarean delivery to save the baby. The baby may be very ill or may even die.
However, getting the proper medical care for preeclampsia may prevent eclampsia. Go to
your prenatal visits as recommended by your doctor to have your blood pressure, blood,
and urine monitored. Make sure to talk to your doctor about any symptoms you have, as