On an episode of our podcast Healthful Woman, Dr. Shari Gelber explained preeclampsia and why the condition is serious for women who are diagnosed with it. Here, we’ll review some of Dr. Gelber’s discussion on preeclampsia and what you need to know.
What is Preeclampsia?
Preeclampsia is a condition that occurs during pregnancy that results in high blood pressure after 20 weeks of gestation. Most women who have preeclampsia do not have high blood pressure before their pregnancies. It is believed that preeclampsia is a result of a reaction to the placenta failing to implant correctly.
How is Preeclampsia Diagnosed?
Aside from high blood pressure, preeclampsia can be diagnosed by a high level of protein in the urine during pregnancy. Preeclampsia is usually diagnosed late in a pregnancy, after 37 weeks, but can even occur after delivery. It can be difficult for obstetricians to predict whether a patient will develop preeclampsia, but Dr. Gelber notes that risk factors are being younger than 19 or older than 35. Patients who are pregnant for the first time, conceived using IVF, are carrying twins, have other conditions like diabetes or lupus, or are obese can also be at a higher risk for preeclampsia.
Why is Preeclampsia So Dangerous?
Preeclampsia is dangerous for patients because the rapidly rising blood pressure creates a risk for stroke or seizure. Because of this, obstetricians may recommend that labor is induced as soon as possible. Preeclampsia can be most dangerous for those who are diagnosed before 34 weeks or who have symptoms including headaches, stomach pain, vaginal bleeding, or blurry or spotty vision. However, these more severe cases only account for about 10% of patients with preeclampsia.
Primarily, the only cure for preeclampsia is delivering the baby. For many patients, high blood pressure subsides quickly after delivery. In some cases, medication to prevent stroke or seizure may be prescribed. Obstetricians may recommend that patients take baby aspirin throughout pregnancy to help prevent preeclampsia. Finally, blood pressure medication may be recommended for some patients.
Schedule an Appointment
To schedule an appointment with one of our expert OB/GYNs, call Carnegie South at 148 Madison Avenue at (212) 235-1506 or Carnegie Hill at 1245 Madison Avenue at (212) 257-9654. You may also contact us online to schedule an appointment.
Carnegie Imaging for Women blogs are intended for educational purposes only and do not replace certified professional care. Medical conditions vary and change frequently. Please ask your doctor any questions you may have regarding your condition to receive a proper diagnosis or risk analysis. Thank you!