Preeclampsia and eclampsia

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Preeclampsia and eclampsia
Preeclampsia and eclampsia

Your doctor just told you that you have preeclampsia and you're worried? Here's everything you need to know about preeclampsia and eclampsia.


What is preeclampsia?

Preeclampsia usually appears after the 20th week of pregnancy and is diagnosed by doctors when they notice elevated blood pressure, high protein levels in the urine, and weight gain with edema. It is estimated that approximately 3% to 7% of pregnant women develop preeclampsia and in Canada, preeclampsia is the leading cause of maternal death. It is related to the fact that when our blood pressure is high during pregnancy, we are more at risk of having a miscarriage or giving birth before term, thus creating complications.

Are you at risk?

If you have a hereditary preposition to high blood pressure; for example, when a member of your family has been diagnosed or you are from an ethnic group that is particularly vulnerable to hypertension, you are at greater risk of developing preeclampsia during your pregnancy. Other known factors may also increase the risk:

  • Age (before 20 or after 40years);
  • If this is your first pregnancy;
  • If you have a history of preeclampsia, or it has been in your family;
  • If you are pregnant with more than one child (twins, triplets, etc.);
  • If you are of African or Native American descent;
  • If you have diabetes;
  • If you have a history of high blood pressure, kidney disease, or blood disorders;
  • If you are overweight.


As mentioned earlier, doctors diagnose preeclampsia when there is high blood pressure, which when it gets too high can also show protein in the urine or blood pressure. 'edema. Here are the other symptoms you may observe:

  • Edema (swelling of the face, hands, ankles or feet) can lead to increased weight gain;
  • Severe headaches;
  • Abdominal pain;
  • Visual problems (blurred vision);
  • Nausea;
  • Delay in the growth of the baby.


If you have preeclampsia and you are not diagnosed in time, you are at risk of developing more serious complications which are:

  • Eclampsia;
  • A cerebral hemorrhage;
  • Retinal detachment that can lead to blindness;
  • A ruptured liver;
  • A placental abruption;
  • The SyndromeHELLP (which increases the risk of bleeding)


Eclampsia is the most common complication of preeclampsia and will occur most often when you enter your third trimester. The warning symptoms are those of preeclampsia, but eclampsia can sometimes present without preeclamptic symptoms.

Eclampsia is characterized by an eclamptic convulsion, which may resemble an epileptic seizure and which initially causes stiffness in the limbs and convulsions that can lead to loss of consciousness or even a coma. It can happen that eclampsia is triggered during childbirth, or even after it. If you are not treated for your preeclampsia, it can be life-threatening in 50% of cases, so it is important to prevent eclampsia by following your doctor's advice.

Preventing and treating preeclampsia

To prevent eclampsia, doctors routinely screen for signs of kidney damage such as high blood pressure and protein in the urine, in addition to listening for any symptoms may announce preeclampsia such as edema. If you have mild preeclampsia: that is, your blood pressure is only slightly elevated and you have no other symptoms, your doctor may allow you to go home, but will most likely prescribe the forced rest.

If you don't show any improvement after a few days, youYou will be hospitalized under medical supervision and your doctor may decide to give you magnesium sulphate, which reduces the risk of seizures and may help lower blood pressure. If treatments don't work, you'll need to give birth as soon as possible to reduce the risk of complications that could be life-threatening to you or your baby. Your doctor will usually give you medication to induce your labor. If vaginal birth is not possible, caesarean section will be indicated.

The majority of women with preeclampsia will recover without sequelae and will not necessarily develop preeclampsia in future pregnancies. In only 5% to 10% of cases, preeclampsia will lead to long-term brain, kidney or heart complications.


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