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What Is Preeclampsia?

Preeclampsia is a type of high blood pressure that occurs in pregnant women after the 20th week of pregnancy. It can also occur in women after they have delivered their baby – this is called postpartum preeclampsia. Preeclampsia may mean that other organs may not be working properly. Ensure you go to your routine appointments to check in on your and your baby’s health. 

Preeclampsia Risk Factors and Prevention

Doctors are still unsure what causes preeclampsia but there are risk factors that may be associated with its development. Risk factors for Preeclampsia include:

  • Carrying multiple babies
  • Getting pregnant younger than 20 or older 40
  • First time mothers
  • Being obese or having a BMI 30 or higher
  • History of high blood pressure before pregnancy
  • History of preeclampsia in previous pregnancies
  • History of diabetes or kidney disorder

While you cannot completely prevent preeclampsia, there are things you can do to potentially keep preeclampsia from developing. Discuss with your doctor about preventing preeclampsia with low dose aspirin and calcium supplements.

Signs and Symptoms of Preeclampsia

While some of these signs and symptoms of preeclampsia can be normal side effects of pregnancy, they may also be a sign of something more serious. Signs and symptoms of preeclampsia include:

  • Swelling in legs
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Rapid weight gain
  • Blurry vision

Be aware of how you feel during your pregnancy. If you experience any of these symptoms, call your doctor or head to the hospital.

Preeclampsia Testing and Diagnosis

If you are experiencing signs and symptoms of preeclampsia, ensure you tell your doctor. Your doctor can perform blood pressure tests as well as urine tests during your routine appointments.

Preeclampsia Treatment and Support

Ensure you treat preeclampsia right away, as it can turn into eclampsia which is a life-threatening condition. If you are close to your due date, delivering your baby should resolve preeclampsia. If you are not close to your due date, talk to your doctor about medications that can help lower your blood pressure.