Hypertension With A Few Extras

February 5, 2009

Preeclampsia, a condition associated with pregnancy, can be a silent killer if not diagnosed and treated promptly.

What Is Preeclampsia?

Preeclampsia, a disorder which affects both mother and baby, occurs during pregnancy and postpartum. It is characterized by high blood pressure and the presence of protein in the urine. There are numerous other symptoms which accompany the condition such as edema (swelling), sudden weight gain, headaches and irregularities in vision. Some women who experience a rapid onset of preeclampsia do not experience any of these symptoms-yet the disorder is there with the potential complications.

While it can occur earlier than 20 weeks gestation, preeclampsia generally manifests in the late second or early third trimesters (middle to late pregnancy). In order to catch the condition in the early stages and manage it during the pregnancy, proper prenatal care is essential. Closely related conditions are pregnancy induced hypertension (PIH) and toxaemia. Globally, hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, like preeclampsia, are a leading cause of both maternal and infant illness and death.

How Will I Know If I Have Preeclampsia?

Preeclampsia may not present symptoms which would seem extraordinary to a woman who may be experiencing it. Consequently, many women may be frustrated by their physician's prescription for bed rest-especially if they feel fine. Preeclampsia is a very serious condition and requires a woman to be diligent with prenatal visits, proper diet, exercise and abstinence from certain food and drink which are not appropriate during pregnancy.

Woman, Know Your Body-High Risk Pregnancy

By knowing her own baseline blood pressure (blood pressure before pregnancy), learning what the numbers mean and asking at every check-up what her blood pressure numbers are, a woman can be on top of her health. If there is a precondition of high blood pressure or if a woman has had preeclampsia in another pregnancy, than it is important that she consult a high-risk obstetrician or specialist who can both advise and treat her during the pregnancy. A high body mass index (BMI) of over 30 is another reason to seek special advice since women who are sedentary or who have a high BMI (are overweight) are at risk for preeclampsia.

Keep An Eye On The Mirror And The Scale-Preeclampsia Prevention

Swelling during pregnancy is normal, however, should it happen in the face (around the eyes) and hands, this can signal a condition called edema. Edema is the accumulation of excess fluid and can become problematic during pregnancy. Proteins which are normally confined in the blood can spill into the urine through a damaged blood vessel in the kidneys and cause a condition called proteinuria-protein in the urine. This condition accompanies preeclampsia and needs to be monitored by the physician.

Sudden weight gain and/or gaining weight at a rapid rate are both concerns which need to be addressed. Eating a balanced, healthy diet and avoiding salt, alcohol, caffeine, smoking and drugs are all wise things to do in any pregnancy. If a woman has preeclampsia, these things become even more important to the health and wellbeing of both mother and baby.

If any of the above symptoms are present during pregnancy, a woman should be in contact with her health care provider in order to receive the proper treatment and help to ensure a safe and healthy delivery.

 

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