Preeclampsia, A Complication of Pregnancy Which Causes Hypertension anda Proteinuria
Preeclampsia, also written pre-eclampsia, is a complication of pregnancy which causes high blood pressure (hypertension) and it also causes protein to leak into the urine (proteinuria). Preeclampsia is sometimes called by other names, including toxemia, pregnancy-induced hypertension or PIH, and preeclamptic toxemia. If left untreated, preeclampsia can be very dangerous for both the mother and baby.
Although the exact cause of preeclampsia is not known, it is thought to occur when there is a problem with the placenta (the organ that links the baby’s blood supply to the mother’s).
Pregnant women with preeclampsia may not realise they have it. However, women in their first pregnancy have a higher risk of developing preeclampsia, as do patients with gestational diabetes and mothers carrying twins.
Preeclampsia is a disorder is generally develops late in pregnancy (after week 20) and is characterized by a sudden onset of high blood pressure, edema (swelling, tends to occur in the face, hands and feet), and protein in the urine.
The more severe pre-eclampsia is, the greater the risk of serious complications to both mother and baby. In severe cases, preeclampsia can be very dangerous to both mother and baby. One severe form of preeclampsia is called HELLP syndrome (H = hemolysis, EL = elevated liver enzymes, LP = low platelets).
If left untreated, preeclampsia can potentially progress to a more dangerous condition known as eclampsia. This is a type of seizure that can be life-threatening for the mother and the baby. However, this is rare and less than 1% of women with preeclampsia develop eclampsia.