High blood pressure in pregnancy is a condition that deserves critical care. If it is not adequately controlled, it can lead to one of the most dangerous complications during pregnancy: Preeclampsia. This condition, which only appears in pregnant women with high blood pressure, usually manifests itself in the last weeks of gestation, although it can appear at any time after week 20. In this FastlyHealarticle we explain the symptoms, causes, treatment, and complications of Preeclampsia.
Table of Contents
What is Preeclampsia?
Preeclampsia is a condition that occurs during pregnancy in women with high blood pressure, manifesting other symptoms such as protein in the urine and weight gain above normal. It happens after the 20th week of gestation, being sporadic cases in which it manifests earlier; the risk of this condition is more significant in pregnant women with high blood pressure who are in the last weeks of pregnancy.
In most cases, the woman manifests mild Preeclampsia in the last weeks of pregnancy, so the fetus is already fully formed, and the delivery date is close. However, there are cases where it occurs severely and in the middle of pregnancy, which significantly increases the risk of health complications for both the mother and the fetus.
What are the complications of this condition?
Most women who suffer from Preeclampsia manifest it around the 37th week of pregnancy; in these cases, the specialist will evaluate the condition of both the mother and the fetus and decide whether it is convenient to advance the delivery to avoid future complications and measures to take about.
However, when this condition manifests itself in the middle of pregnancy and with severe intensity, it can present essential risks and complications that can affect the health of mother and child.
Risks to the mother
- Contraction of blood vessels decreases blood flow.
- Poor blood flow can affect the health of organs such as the liver or kidneys, affecting their functioning and can cause significant damage to them.
- There is a risk of detachment of the placenta and reduction of amniotic fluid.
- In rare cases, severe Preeclampsia can lead to eclampsia, a condition in which the mother experiences seizures that can lead to a coma and compromise the baby’s life. To avoid this, it is expected that if you suffer from severe Preeclampsia, your doctor prescribes magnesium sulfide, which will help prevent seizures.
Risks to the baby
- If the blood flow to the uterus is low, the baby risks having low birth weight due to the lack of nutrients during pregnancy.
- In severe and rare cases where the necessary care has not been received, fetal death can occur.
- All the complications mentioned above usually lead to premature birth due to the need for the mother to give birth and protect the health of both.
Risk factors for developing Preeclampsia
High blood pressure during pregnancy is the trigger for Preeclampsia; although any woman can express this table, there are groups with higher risk.
The risk factors for Preeclampsia are:
- I had high blood pressure before pregnancy.
- Have obesity
- Let this be your first pregnancy.
- Be over 35 years of age.
- I have had Preeclampsia in a previous pregnancy or have a family history of this condition.
- Have multiple pregnancies.
- I have diabetes or kidney failure.
If you meet several of these factors, your doctor will likely monitor your blood pressure much more closely and invite you to eat an appropriate diet for your condition, free of salt or iodine, to reduce possible complications.
Symptoms of Preeclampsia
High blood pressure is generally detected through the standard blood pressure measurement. From this point on, your doctor will carry out different tests to determine the presence of Preeclampsia, for example:
- Urinalysis to detect the presence of proteins, which are manifested in the blood when there is low blood flow to the placenta, is a determining test that there is Preeclampsia.
- Blood tests to evaluate platelet count and liver enzymes.
- Ultrasounds and ultrasounds to determine the growth and health of the fetus.
Once it is determined that you have high blood pressure, your doctor will check you at each visit. Usually, mild Preeclampsia often produces no signs; however, some of its symptoms are:
- Sudden weight gain that occurs overnight or over two days.
- Weight gain of 1 kilo per week.
- Significant swelling in the hands, feet, and face.
Severe Preeclampsia may have symptoms such as:
- Severe headache that does not go away.
- Abdominal or shoulder pain, specifically on the right side of the body.
- Changes in vision
- Infrequent urination.
- Nausea and vomiting
If several of these signs are present, it is essential to see a doctor as soon as possible.
Treatment of Preeclampsia
The only treatment for Preeclampsia is childbirth, which will allow blood pressure to return to adequate levels within a few weeks.
In cases of mild preeclampsia that occurs during the second trimester of pregnancy, some recommendations should be followed during pregnancy to avoid complications until the fetus develops enough to advance delivery or cesarean section; these are:
- Reduce the intake of salt in the diet.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Go to all medical check-ups.
- Rest preferably on the left side of the body.
- Bed rest.
- Take medication to reduce blood pressure if the doctor considers it so.
In particular cases, your doctor may request that you be hospitalized to keep you under frequent observation. If you have Preeclampsia and you are in the 37th week of your pregnancy, your doctor will likely decide to advance your delivery or perform a cesarean section. If your doctor detects severe Preeclampsia, it will be essential to remove the baby as soon as possible to ensure the well-being of both.
This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.
If you want to read more articles similar to Preeclampsia: symptoms, causes, and treatment , we recommend that you enter our Pregnancy and baby health category .
I am a Surgeon with a diploma in comprehensive ultrasound and surgical care residency, an area I am specializing in. During the exercise of my profession, I have realized the need for patients to know the diseases they suffer, and I can tell you that a large part of their complications is due to a lack of information. Being a health web writer allows me to transmit my experience, without borders, to all those readers eager for knowledge, educate them in the prevention of diseases and promote a healthy lifestyle.