Pre-eclampsia: Doctors reveal symptoms, causes, diagnosis and treatments of the dangerous blood pressure disorder

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Pre-eclampsia is a dangerous blood pressure disorder that occurs during pregnancy and in most cases, the disease appears after the 20th week of pregnancy and usually disappears within days to weeks after delivery. Health experts reveal that your blood pressure may stay elevated for a few weeks after delivery, necessitating prescription treatment hence, following your pregnancy, your healthcare practitioner will work with you to maintain your blood pressure. 

This disorder puts women at risk for high blood pressure (hypertension) and heart problems later in life, especially if the illness develops early in pregnancy. With this knowledge, women can engage with their primary care provider to lower their risks.

Causes:

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Monika Singh, Asst. Professor (Department of OBGY) at Noida International Institute of Medical Sciences, shared, “Preeclampsia can be caused by a number of factors, including age, family history, previous preeclampsia, numerous pregnancies, and so on. Cause of pre eclampsia is usually idipathic but there are a number of things that can increase your chances of developing pre-eclampsia, such as: having diabetes, high blood pressure or kidney disease before you were pregnant. having an autoimmune condition, such as lupus or antiphospholipid syndrome. having high blood pressure in previous pregnancy.”

Echoing the same, Dr Gauri Agarwal, Fertility Specialist, Founder and Director of Seeds of Innocence and Genestrings Diagnostics, said, “Pre-eclampsia is a dangerous blood pressure disorder that occurs during pregnancy. In most cases, the disease appears after the 20th week of pregnancy. It can harm many organs in the body, as well as the mother and her developing foetus (unborn baby). This condition can affect women who have high blood pressure, kidney disease or diabetes or have a family history of preeclampsia, have autoimmune diseases like lupus or are obese.”

Risk Factors:

According to Dr Monika Singh, the risk factors for pre-eclampsia include:

1. Nulliparity

2. Multifetal gestations

3. Preeclampsia in a previous pregnancy

4. Chronic hypertension

5. Pre-gestational diabetes

6. Gestational diabetes

7. Thrombophilia

8. Systemic lupus erythematosus

9. Pre-pregnancy body mass index greater than 30

10. Antiphospholipid antibody syndrome

11. Maternal age 35 years or older

12. Kidney disease

13. Assisted reproductive technology

14. Obstructive sleep apnea

Symptoms:

Dr Monika Singh highlighted, “Pre-eclampsia is a pregnancy problem. Excessive blood pressure, high levels of protein in urine, which signal kidney impairment (proteinuria), and other evidence of organ damage are all symptoms of preeclampsia. Pre-eclampsia commonly develops after 20 weeks of pregnancy in women who had previously had normal blood pressure. High blood pressure, proteinuria or other evidence of kidney or other organ damage are all symptoms of pre-eclampsia. You might not have any symptoms at all. During routine prenatal appointments with a health care practitioner, the earliest signs of preeclampsia are frequently identified.”

She said that pre-eclampsia can cause the following signs and symptoms in addition to high blood pressure:

1. Proteinuria (excess protein in the urine) or other symptoms of renal disease

2. Low platelet numbers in the blood (thrombocytopenia)

3. Increased liver enzymes, which indicate an issue with the liver

4. Headaches

5. Vision changes, such as temporary blindness, blurred vision, or light sensitivity

6. Shortness of breath due to pulmonary fluid

7. Pain in the upper abdomen, generally under the right ribs

8. Vomiting or nausea

Dr Gauri Agarwal said, “High blood pressure (hypertension) and high protein levels in the urine are common symptoms of this condition. Headaches, blurred vision or light sensitivity, dark spots appearing in the vision, right side abdominal pain, swelling in your hands and face (edema) or shortness of breath are all other common symptoms of this condition.”

As per Dr Alap Christy, Scientific Business Head and AVP – Clinical Chemistry at Metropolis Healthcare Limited Mumbai, “Key symptoms of pre-eclampsia include high blood pressure and sometimes swellings in the legs due to water retention. However, a few patients may also have additional symptoms such as shoulder pain, headache, dizziness, difficulty in breathing, blurry vision etc. Symptoms are severe when pre-eclampsia gets converted to eclampsia and is life threatening for both mother and child’s health. On the other hand, as per the National Eclampsia Registry (NER) data, 57% of cases with pre-eclampsia do not have any specific symptoms, which indicates the need of an early screening test to predict the risk.”

Diagnosis and treatment:

According to Dr Gauri Agarwal, “Although there is no cure for preeclampsia, women who have it must be monitored by their doctors at all times. The doctor will prescribe the appropriate medication to aid in the normal development of the foetus while also protecting the pregnant woman from harm.”

However, Dr Alap Christy suggested, “Screening can happen as early as from 11 weeks of pregnancy. When you get your dual marker done, an add on test for pre-eclampsia risk using PLGF can give a great prediction value. This test calculates the risk based on USG findings on uterine artery Doppler, PLGF & PAPP-A values. In case this test is missed, pre-eclampsia can be diagnosed using more advanced test such as sFlt/PLGF ratio. This test helps to predict maternal/foetal adverse outcomes in next 1-4 weeks and helps how long to wait before initiating a pre-term delivery. Traditional tests such as uric acid, haematocrit, urine protein, liver and kidney function tests remains in supporting role to track the progress along with regular USG and Doppler.”

 



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