Preeclampsia is the occurrence of high blood pressure during pregnancy. It usually occurs more in first pregnancies. In one Indian study, high blood pressure was seen in 5 - 6% of patients1.
Eclampsia is the occurrence of preeclampsia and seizures.
- High-blood pressure (usually greater than 140/90), after 20 weeks of pregnancy
- Excessive swelling of the hands and face and feet
- Sudden weight gain (caused by swelling and water retention)
- Blurring of vision
- Severe headaches and dizziness
- Abdominal pain
- High blood pressure (140/90 or higher) in the routine blood pressure check
- Protein in the routine urine test
- Physical examination by the doctor for excessive swelling and other signs
If the baby is far from the due date (less than 37 weeks pregnant), then the mother is advised bed rest at home or in the hospital. A low salt diet is advised to keep the blood pressure in check.
The doctor will monitor you closely—your blood pressure, baby movements and growth will be tracked closely. You might need to see the doctor more often.
For acute preclampsia, intravenous medicines might be given as well.
Once the baby is close to the full term of 37 to 40 weeks or pregnancy, the doctor might consider an early delivery.
Effect on baby
Preeclampsia may restrict the growth of the baby (Intre Uterine Growth Restriction - IUGR). It may also result in some foetal distress. In case the doctor considers an early delivery, a premature baby may also be possible.
Preeclampsia may also trigger placental abruption.
1. Prakash Jai, Pandey LK, Singh AK, Kar Bibekanand, "Hypertension in Pregnancy: Hospital Based Study" JAPI2006;54:273-8