Preeclampsia, also known as toxemia or pre-eclampsia, during pregnancy occurs when there is a sudden increase in blood pressure, proteinuria (excess protein in the urine) and swelling of the face, hands and feet (edema).
Left untreated, preeclampsia can lead to eclampsia, a much more serious condition that can lead to seizures and even death for both mother and child.
Preeclampsia usually occurs after 20 weeks' gestation and up to six weeks after delivery, although in rare cases it can occur before 20 weeks.
It seems that preeclampsia is due to a problem in the development of the placenta. The small blood vessels that initially exist within the placenta should eventually become arteries. If these arteries are not formed, the placenta does not work properly, causing high blood pressure, swelling and can trigger kidney problems.Although it is not very clear what the causes of preeclampsia during pregnancy are, there are several theories about it:
Women are at higher risk of pre-eclampsia:
Preeclampsia can have some long-term consequences for the baby's development. The main effect of pre-eclampsia on the fetus is a reduction in its growth, since the blood supply to the placenta is restricted. Studies have shown that high blood pressure during pregnancy can affect the cognitive abilities of the baby.
Many pregnant women will experience hypertension and bloating from fluid retention, but this does not necessarily imply preeclampsia. The clearest sign of preeclampsia is the presence of protein in the urine.
For the diagnosis of preeclampsia, the following are taken into account:
Preeclampsia only disappears after delivery, so in severe cases, and when diagnosed late in pregnancy, it may be advisable to advance the delivery date.
In very early stages of pregnancy or when the symptoms of preeclampsia are mild, it may be advisable to:
However, and especially when preeclampsia has been diagnosed very early in pregnancy, the doctor may decide to use a drug such as:
In all cases, a close monitoring of blood pressure, urine protein levels and the baby's growth will be necessary. Sometimes the mother may need to be hospitalized to ensure continuous rest and stricter monitoring.
It is very important to control blood pressure during pregnancy. Do you know what your blood pressure is? Are you hypertensive?