Preeclampsia is a pregnancy complication which usually develops after the 20th week of pregnancy.
It can be characterised by a sudden increase in blood pressure causing symptoms related to hypertension, severe hand and facial swelling along with increment of proteins in the urine.
As you can see, the diagnosis of preeclampsia can be established during regular clinical checkup.
This emphasises the importance of complying to your routine prenatal appointment.
Approximately 2 to 8% of pregnancies around the world are complicated by preeclampsia.
While the majority of cases resolve without any sequelae, it can be dangerous for mothers and fetuses if they are left untreated.
Fortunately, prenatal care includes preeclampsia screening. If you were diagnosed near term, you still have excellent chances to score a positive pregnancy outcome.
Why do pregnant women get preeclampsia?
There are a number of theories which have been postulated to explain why this pathological event takes place.
- Genetics. As much as it deems true, one of the hypothetical reasons can be due to the fetus genetic makeup which predisposed a pregnancy to preeclampsia. Thus, if your mother or your spouse’s mother have a history of preeclampsia during pregnancy, there is a chance that you will be getting it too.
- Blood vessels defect. One of the most popular theories being accepted by the scientific community concerns with blood vessel defects. Instead of widening, the blood vessels supplying important organs and your fetus constrict which cause preeclampsia.
- Immune response to an unrecognised potential threat. Yes, whether you like it or not, your baby is considered as a foreign intruder. As your body becomes sensitised to the incoming threat, it can influence the destruction of your blood vessels (not in literal sense). This particular pathological sensitivity can be worse if both mother and father have the same genetic makeup.
- Predisposing gum disease. Compared to a pregnant woman with a healthy gum, those with severe gum disease are more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with preeclampsia. How it influences the risk of developing that particular complication is not known. However, it can be due to the fact that bacteria that causes periodontal disease can travel to the placenta.
If you have these risk factors, you will be more than likely to have it
People who are diagnosed with preeclampsia are considered high risk. It’s mostly associated with the first pregnancy. However, you shouldn’t be relieved if you aren’t diagnosed with this condition during your previous pregnancy.
The following risk factors are associated with the tendency for a pregnant woman to develop preeclampsia:
- Advanced maternal age (more than 35 years old)
- History of chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and kidney diseases just to name a few
- Certain blood disorders such as sickle cell disease and thrombophilia
- Lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma and other autoimmune disorders
- Twin pregnancy
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- Pregnancy resulting from in vitro fertilization (IVF)
- Other pregnancy related complication such as gestational hypertension
- Nutritional deficiency particularly vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E and magnesium
If you are diagnosed with preeclampsia during your first pregnancy, you will have a higher risk to develop that condition for your subsequent pregnancy.
If you are deeply concern, these are preeclampsia’s symptoms
It’s important for you to comply with your prenatal checkup. During the appointment, you will be screened to see if you need extra prenatal care in regards to pregnancy related complications.
The following symptoms can indicate the likelihood of you to get preeclampsia.
- Severe headache that doesn’t respond to medications.
- Excessive weight gain even if you are eating less.
- Swelling of your face or your limbs.
- Blurring of vision.
- Abdominal pain commonly felt at the upper part.
- Protein in urine.
- Blood pressure of more than 140/90 mmHg for those who have never been diagnosed with hypertension.
- Exaggerated reflex.
It’s not easy trying to discern preeclampsia from physiological pregnancy changes.
For example, it’s perfectly normal for pregnant women to experience weight gain and limb swelling.
That’s why you shouldn’t skip your prenatal appointment. It’s crucial for you to be monitored by a professional.
These are some of the complications related to preeclampsia
Preeclampsia, no matter the severity can be downright dangerous for you and your baby.
These are some of the complications which you could’ve gotten if it left untreated.
- Eclampsia. This is a much more severe consequence of an untreated preeclampsia. It can result in seizures and several other neurological consequences.
- HELLP Syndrome. HELLP is an acronym which can be broken down as Haemolysis, Elevated Liver enzymes ( a clue that your liver is not doing well) and Low Platelet count (increased risk of bleeding). This particular complication can happen either by itself in a susceptible woman or in conjunction with untreated preeclampsia.
- Preterm delivery.
- Intrauterine growth restriction. Your baby’s growth parameter is quite unsatisfied. They will be too small for the gestational age.
- Placental abruption. This basically means you are predisposed to experience early separation of placenta which could lead to bleeding.
- Liver and kidney damages.
Though preeclampsia can only be diagnosed during pregnancy, it can increase the risk of developing certain chronic diseases later on.
Women who experience high blood pressure during pregnancy were more likely to have an increased risk to be diagnosed with metabolic disease later on.
The only things you need to remember is to comply with your prenatal checkup. If you take your doctor’s advice down to the letter, you will have your chance at having a healthy and uneventful pregnancy.
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