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Preeclampsia: Understanding the Risks

Updated: Jan 20, 2023


Preeclampsia is one of the most common complications of pregnancy. Understanding the signs, risks and treatment of this condition is an important way to prepare for a healthy pregnancy. We will be discussing this diagnosis and its potential impact on your pregnancy.



What is Preeclampsia?


Preeclampsia is a serious health condition that typically develops in late pregnancy. Preeclampsia is often characterized by high blood pressure and elevated levels of protein in the urine (proteinuria). In cases of preeclampsia, blood pressure is generally greater than 140/90 mmHg.


How Common Is Preeclampsia?


Unfortunately, preeclampsia is one of the more common pregnancy-related complications. It is estimated that this condition affects approximately 8% of pregnancies worldwide. In the United States, preeclampsia is the cause of approximately 15% of premature deliveries.


What Are the Risk Factors for Preeclampsia?


There are several conditions that may increase a woman’s risk of developing preeclampsia. These include obesity, a history of high blood pressure or preeclampsia in a prior pregnancy, age greater than 40, multiple gestation, and African American ethnicity.


What Are the Signs of Preeclampsia?


Since this condition involves elevated blood pressure and proteinuria, routine prenatal care is essential in the diagnosis and treatment of this condition. Additional symptoms of preeclampsia include sudden weight gain, persistent headache, shortness of breath, unusual swelling of the hands or feet, upper abdominal pain, and changes in vision.


What Are the Dangers of Preeclampsia?


Preeclampsia can lead to stroke. Additionally, damage to the kidneys, liver, lungs, eyes or heart may occur. Infants who are born early due to preeclampsia face a risk of health issues related to prematurity.


What Is the Treatment for Preeclampsia?


Delivery of the baby is the primary treatment of preeclampsia. Depending on your condition, your physician may recommend an early delivery, as this typically resolves the condition. In fact, symptoms of preeclampsia typically resolve within 48 hours following delivery. In some cases, physicians may prescribe medication to help lower blood pressure and prevent seizures.


Takeaway Message:

Preeclampsia is a common complication of pregnancy which affects approximately 8% of pregnancies worldwide. Regular prenatal care is an essential part of identifying preeclampsia. Symptoms of preeclampsia include persistent headache, swelling of hands and feet, shortness of breath and changes in vision. The condition typically resolves shortly after delivery.


Have you been diagnosed with preeclampsia? We would love to hear from you. Please share in the comments below.


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