Preeclampsia is a condition that occurs during pregnancy and presents with high blood pressure and symptoms that signify organ damage, especially of the liver and kidneys. A diagnosis of preeclampsia is made when high blood pressure begins after 20 weeks of pregnancy when the blood pressure had previously been normal. Women who have hypertension before pregnancy in McAllen, Texas are at a high risk of preeclampsia.
Preeclampsia can cause complications to you and your baby, which can result in death if you fail to get treatment. At the obstetrics in McAllen TX unit, the blood pressure of every pregnant woman is monitored during the prenatal period to prevent harm to the mother and her baby. The best treatment of preeclampsia is immediately delivering the baby, but this is a challenge if the baby is immature. Postpartum preeclampsia is a condition that develops after childbirth.
How Does Preeclampsia Present?
Women with preeclampsia are sometimes asymptomatic and the onset of the high blood pressure may be gradual or sudden. The symptoms of preeclampsia include severe headaches, blurring of vision or temporary vision loss, and reduction in urine output. You may also experience upper right abdominal pain and difficulty in breathing caused by pleural effusion.
Nausea or vomiting and swelling of the feet or body due to the fluid collection are other symptoms of preeclampsia. The function of the liver is impaired when you have preeclampsia and this can reduce the production of platelets. A low number of platelets in the body puts you at risk of abnormal bleeding.
What Causes Preeclampsia?
Preeclampsia is caused by many factors, but pathophysiology starts in the placenta which is the organ that provides nutrients to the fetus when in utero. New blood vessels to the placenta begin to form in the early stages of pregnancy, but this process is disrupted in preeclampsia. The blood vessels have a narrow lumen that cannot deliver sufficient blood to the placenta and fetus.
Some women are genetically predisposed to preeclampsia. Immune system abnormalities also play a role in the development of preeclampsia. Some risk factors increase your chances of getting preeclampsia including being over 35 years when you are pregnant and having chronic hypertension.
Preeclampsia is also common in black women more than caucasians, in women with a twin pregnancy, and in those who are obese. Having preeclampsia in the past also puts you at risk of getting preeclampsia again.
What Are the Complications of Preeclampsia?
One complication of preeclampsia is the restriction of fetal growth because the arteries carrying blood to the placenta and fetus are narrow and supply less oxygen and nutrients. These babies are born with low birth weight or prematurely. Prematurity puts the baby at risk because their lungs and other systems are not fully developed.
The placenta can detach from the uterus in a condition called placenta abruption, which puts you at risk of bleeding. Excess bleeding due to placenta abruption can be fatal to the fetus. HELLP syndrome which is an acronym for hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, and low platelet count is another severe complication of preeclampsia.
HELLP syndrome presents with nausea and vomiting, severe headache, and pain in the upper right side of the tummy. This syndrome can start gradually or suddenly and sometimes it is asymptomatic. Some women get a combination of preeclampsia and seizures, and this is referred to as eclampsia.
Eclampsia is life-threatening and requires urgent treatment and delivery of the baby. Preeclampsia also causes damage to other body organs like the liver, eyes, and the brain, especially when it is severe. You can also develop heart disease from preeclampsia.
Preeclampsia is a condition that causes high blood pressure in pregnant women after the twentieth week. Women who become pregnant with their first baby after 35 years and those with chronic preeclampsia are at high risk of preeclampsia. Blood pressure monitoring should be done prenatally to prevent fatal complications of preeclampsia.