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If my blood pressure is high during pregnancy do I have preeclampsia?

What is Preeclampsia

Preeclampsia is a condition which develops after the 20th week of pregnancy or during the postpartum period. Women with preeclampsia will develop a persistent high blood pressure and and high amounts can also develops excess protein in their urine, fluid in their lungs, kidney or liver issues, decreased blood platelets, or signs of brain trouble.

Preeclampsia can develop without high levels of protein in the urine so this measurement is no longer considered the gold standard of measurement according to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Preeclampsia is a serious condition which can affect the mother and the baby and be very dangerous or fatal if it is not detected early and treated by a provider.

Possible Symptoms Associated with Preeclampsia

  • Headaches

  • Abdominal pain

  • Swelling in the hands and face

  • Burning behind the breast bone

  • Shortness of breath

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Confusion

  • Anxiety

  • Visual disturbances

What Causes Preeclampsia?

Although the exact cause of preeclampsia is unknown there is some consensus that the health of the placenta plays a key role. The placenta is the organ that supplies nutrients from mother to the baby.

Risk Factors

The health of the placenta is influenced by the health of the mother. Thus, women with hypertension and or metabolic conditions such as diabetes have a higher risk of developing preeclampsia. Obesity is also considered a risk factor for developing preeclampsia.

Other risk factors include pregnancy with multiples, family history of preeclampsia, and autoimmune conditions.

How is it Treated?

Once preeclampsia is identified, mother and baby will need to be monitored closely. Sometimes you may be admitted to the hospital for the remainder of your pregnancy. Medications may be used to manage hypertension such as beta-blockers and anti-hypertensives. Your provider will monitor your health and the health of your baby to determine if your baby needs to be delivered early.

What Can You do?

If you are pregnant, just be aware of changes in your body and communicate new symptoms with your provider. Also, manage your blood pressure by decreasing stress, eating healthy meals low in sodium, and exercising, and managing your weight.

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