Posts Tagged ‘eclampsia’

Preeclampsia is not a thing of the past

Monday, January 28th, 2013

downton-abbey1Did you watch Downton Abbey? What a shocker! But did you know that losing a mother and/or baby to eclampsia resulting from preeclampsia still happens today?

Preeclampsia is a condition that happens only during pregnancy (after the 20th week) or right after pregnancy. It’s when a pregnant woman has both high blood pressure and protein in her urine. We don’t know what causes it and we don’t know how to prevent it.

Most women with preeclampsia have healthy babies, but it can cause severe problems for moms. Without treatment, preeclampsia can cause kidney, liver and brain damage. It also may affect how the blood clots and cause serious bleeding problems. In rare cases, preeclampsia can become a life-threatening condition called eclampsia that includes seizures following preeclampsia. Eclampsia sometimes can lead to coma and, in Lady Sybil’s case, death.

It has been nearly 100 years since the time of the story portrayed on Downton Abbey, yet to this day there still is no cure for preeclampsia except immediate delivery of the baby, often via cesarean section. Preeclampsia can turn into full eclampsia fairly quickly and it’s important that medical professionals keep an eye out for signs.

Signs and symptoms of preeclampsia include:
High blood pressure
Protein in the urine
Severe headaches
Vision problems, like blurriness, flashing lights, or being sensitive to light
Pain in the upper right belly area
Nausea or vomiting
Sudden weight gain (2 to 5 pounds in a week)
Swelling in the legs, hands, and face

It’s true that many of these signs and symptoms are normal discomforts of pregnancy. That’s one of the reasons why it’s so important to receive regular prenatal care. If you’re pregnant and have severe headaches, blurred vision or severe upper belly pain, call your health care provider right away.

You can read one woman’s personal story here, and for more information about preeclampsia, go to this link.

Early urine test for preeclampsia

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

Research presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Nephrology in November claimed that a simple measurement of key proteins in a urine test can detect preeclampsia in women during the early stages of pregnancy.

Preeclampsia  is a potentially serious illness marked by high blood pressure and protein in the urine. If untreated, it can become a rare, life-threatening condition for both the mother and the baby called eclampsia. Eclampsia can cause seizures and, in some cases, coma. Fortunately, eclampsia is rare in women who receive regular prenatal care.

Although clinical signs of preeclampsia do not appear until later in pregnancy, researchers in the UK thought that changes in certain protein levels in the urine might be early signs of placental problems which can lead to preeclampsia.  The results of their study of 145 pregnant women identified a “urine protein fingerprint,” a panel of 5 peaks that predicted preeclampsia with a 92% accuracy rate.

Follow-up studies need to be performed to verify the accuracy of this method of testing, but these results are encouraging.  Early detection could lead to closer monitoring of a pregnant woman’s urine, for signs of rising proteins, and blood pressure. This might lead to controlling blood pressure with medications earlier in the pregnancy when necessary, possibly allowing for a longer and healthier pregnancy for both mom and baby.

(Renal Week 2010: American Society of Nephrology 43rd Annual Meeting. Abstract FC223. Presented November 19, 2010)

Do you know if you have high blood pressure?

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

taking-bpAccording to a recent Institute of Medicine report, nearly one in three adults has hypertension, high blood pressure (HBP).  That’s a huge number! HBP is one of the nation’s leading causes of death, responsible for roughly one in six deaths among adults annually.  And a whole lot of us don’t know we have HBP because we don’t visit our health care provider regularly.

Blood pressure is the force of the blood pushing against the walls of the arteries (blood vessels that carry oxygen-rich blood to all parts of the body). When the pressure in the arteries becomes too high, it is called high blood pressure or hypertension.

About 8 percent of women have problems with high blood pressure during pregnancy. There are several types of high blood pressure that affect pregnant women. Some types start before pregnancy, and others develop during pregnancy. All types of high blood pressure can pose risks to the pregnant woman and her baby. Read our fact sheet for more information.

If you are planning on becoming pregnant soon, make sure to get your blood pressure checked and under control now.  BP is something that is checked regularly during prenatal care, so it’s important you keep all your visits when you do become pregnant.  Fortunately, problems usually can be managed with proper prenatal care.

Why your weight matters

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

scaleIt’s important to get to a healthy weight before you become pregnant.  If a woman is overweight or obese before pregnancy, she may face special health risks when pregnant (high blood pressure, preeclampsia or eclampsia, diabetes, problems during childbirth). Babies born to overweight or obese mothers may face their own challenges, too (risk of being born prematurely, certain birth defects, needing care in a NICU, possible obesity in childhood). Ask your doc or health provider for help in losing weight and getting to a safe starting point.

If you watch our video, you’ll learn what you can do if you’re an overweight or obese mom to protect your own health and the health of your baby.  “Pregnancy: The Overweight or Obese Woman” is part of the March of Dimes Healthy Pregnancy, Healthy Baby video series.