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Preeclampsia: Symptoms, Causes, Treatments, Risk Factors & Prevention


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Preeclampsia is a serious condition that develops in pregnant women. Nearly 1 out of every 25 pregnant women suffer from this complication. 

Women with this condition have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease after delivery. They should check their blood pressure yearly to ensure it stays within normal limits. 

Other preventive measures include maintaining a healthy weight, limiting salt and alcohol consumption, and regular exercise. Educating yourself about preeclampsia and risk factors will help you prepare for the delivery process.

The prevention of this condition includes close monitoring of your health and your baby. This may include ultrasounds, blood tests, and non-stress tests. 

Depending on the severity of the condition, your doctor may recommend bed rest. A doctor may also recommend early delivery, as preeclampsia can get worse during the delivery process.

In this article, we will discuss preeclampsia: symptoms, causes, treatments, risk factors & prevention

What’s Preeclampsia In Pregnancy?

Preeclampsia is a pregnancy complication affecting approximately 2 to 8 percent of women. It can develop during pregnancy if the woman has a vascular disease or high blood pressure prior to getting pregnant. 

Left untreated, it can lead to the death of the mother and baby. You must undergo blood, urine, and liver function tests if you have this condition. Your doctor may also recommend a cesarean section to prevent preeclampsia from getting worse.

If you’re pregnant and have high blood pressure, it’s possible to develop preeclampsia or pregnancy-induced hypertension. This condition can affect your blood pressure, kidney, or liver function. 

Women who have this condition should seek medical care as soon as possible. Although the condition usually resolves on its own, it may take several days or even weeks to heal fully. You can reduce the risk of developing preeclampsia by eating a healthy diet and maintaining a healthy body weight.

What Are The Symptoms of Preeclampsia?

Preeclampsia is a serious blood pressure disorder that affects the organs of a pregnant woman. The symptoms may appear as early as 20 weeks of pregnancy. Although these symptoms often resolve themselves, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. If left untreated, it can cause serious health complications for both the mother and the baby.

Women experiencing preeclampsia symptoms should see their doctor regularly for prenatal care. If they begin to have any severe symptoms, they should visit the hospital immediately. Here are some common symptoms of preeclampsia

  • High blood pressure
  • Protein in the urine
  • Severe headaches
  • Blurry vision
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling ill or sick
  • Rapid weight gain by fluid retention
  • Pain below ribs on the right side
  • Urinating less often
  • Nausea and vomiting in the last 4 months
  • Impaired liver function
  • Lower platelet countSwelling in hands and feet
  • Fluid in the lungs

What Are The Causes of Preeclampsia?

Preeclampsia is a serious condition that affects pregnant women. It begins much earlier in the pregnancy than normal and requires specialized care. Patients with this condition are closely monitored, having more prenatal appointments and tests performed. They may also be required to monitor their blood pressure at home. Severe cases may require hospitalization and delivery. 

Although the causes are not fully understood, experts believe that it results from improper placental development and abnormalities of the blood vessels in the mother’s bloodstream. These abnormalities cause the release of toxic proteins into the mother’s bloodstream, affecting several systems of the mother and fetus. Genetic factors may also play a role. Here are some causes of preeclampsia.

  • Insufficient blood flow to the uterus
  • Damage to the blood vessels
  • Problems with the immune system
  • Genetic factors

Risk Factor Associated with Preeclampsia

Preeclampsia occurs when a woman’s blood pressure rises to an abnormal level after twenty weeks of gestation. It is a serious illness that affects the mother and fetus and is the leading cause of maternal and fetal morbidity. While there is no specific screening test for the condition, specific counseling is necessary to identify women who are at increased risk. 

The most common risk factors are older age and multiple pregnancies. Certain risks are also associated with diabetes, high pre-pregnancy body mass index, and pregnancy diabetes mellitus. The best way to prevent this condition is to ensure a healthy pregnancy and discuss potential risk factors with your provider. Here are some risk factors for preeclampsia.

  • Family history 
  • First pregnancies
  • Obesity
  • Personal history of preeclampsia
  • Multiple pregnancies
  • People with chronic high blood pressure
  • People with diabetes
  • Autoimmune conditions
  • People with kidney disease

Preeclampsia Treatment in Pregnancy

Preeclampsia treatment for pregnant women will vary depending on the stage of the pregnancy and the severity of the condition. Women who are less than 37 weeks pregnant will be monitored for the condition with blood pressure and urine tests. 

Their baby will also be monitored for growth and development. The treatment in pregnancy can include medicines to control blood pressure and even seizure medications. Some women will also receive steroid injections to help their baby’s lungs mature more quickly.

Treatment during pregnancy depends on the severity of the disease and the closeness of the due date. In severe cases, a health care provider may choose to deliver the baby as early as possible to avoid complications. In the meantime, patients may need bed rest and blood pressure medications. Some women may also need dietary changes and supplements.

Treatment is crucial for pregnant women who have been diagnosed. If left untreated, it can lead to several serious complications, such as a stroke and, in some cases, even death. If diagnosed early, treatment can prevent these complications. Here are some common treatment options for preeclampsia. 

  • Medications

Preeclampsia is a serious hypertensive disorder of pregnancy that can lead to severe outcomes for both mother and baby. Typically, it affects two to eight percent of pregnancies. Symptoms include epigastric pain, visual disturbance, and proteinuria. Some women also experience hepatic and pulmonary oedema. In order to control blood pressure and manage the symptoms, a doctor may recommend the following medications. 

  1. Antihypertensives: The use of antihypertensives is necessary to prevent preeclampsia from developing in young or normal-weight women. These medicines help to lower blood pressure. 
  2. Anticonvulsants: Preeclampsia is a multisystem disorder that affects pregnant women. In severe cases, it can result in seizures. Anticonvulsants are used to prevent seizures and treat them when they do occur.
  3. Corticosteroids: Corticosteroids can be effective for the treatment of preeclampsia during pregnancy. These medicines induce fetal lung maturity so that women can deliver the baby early.
  • Rest

In early mild cases of preeclampsia, strict bed rest is required to reduce the risk of developing a serious condition. The patient should be monitored by a doctor every two days and kept on a salt-reduced diet. Water intake should also be increased. The patient should be positioned on her left side in bed, increasing the urge to urinate and preventing dehydration. This position will also keep blood from getting concentrated. Studies have suggested that rest during pregnancy can reduce the risk in pregnant women with normal blood pressure. 

  • Inducing Labor

Inducing labour during preeclamptic pregnancy can be an effective treatment option. If the case is severe and there are no choices left, doctors often induce labour or opt for cesarean delivery. However, it should be done carefully and only under the guidance of medical professionals. Your doctor can provide you with detailed information and options for inducing labour.

Prevention of Preeclampsia

Preeclampsia is a serious health problem that can cause both morbidity and mortality. Fortunately, there are a number of factors that can prevent this condition. Prevention can help reduce maternal mortality. 

Earlier detection of the disease is essential for prevention. If the condition is discovered, the mother and baby should be monitored closely and undergo prenatal tests frequently. If the condition worsens, the mother-to-be may be hospitalized, requiring a Cesarean delivery. Here are some things you can do to prevent preeclampsia during pregnancy.

  • Avoid eating highly processed food,
  • Drink 6 to 8 glasses of water daily,
  • Avoid consuming excess salt,
  • Stop alcohol and caffeine consumption,
  • Keep your feet elevated a few times a day,
  • Exercise regularly under your doctor’s guidance,
  • Take lots of rest,
  • Take vitamin E and C supplements,
  • Get enough sleep and maintain a healthy weight,
  • Control your blood pressure and sugar.


  • Is There a Cure For Preeclampsia?

Unfortunately, there is no cure for preeclampsia. This condition can only be cured by delivering the baby. While there is no cure, you can reduce your risk by controlling your blood pressure, eating a healthy diet, and managing your weight. 

  • What is the Main Treatment for Preeclampsia?

The treatment for preeclampsia depends on the severity and gestational age. Treatment may involve using antihypertensive medicines to control blood pressure, strict bed rest, or inducing labour in severe cases. 

  • What Does Preeclampsia Put You at Risk For?

Preeclampsia can lead to problems with the placenta’s ability to get adequate blood flow, further leading to issues like; unplanned preterm birth, pregnancy loss, stillbirth, organ failure, stroke, or seizure. 


Preeclampsia is a serious condition that can be life-threatening if untreated. This condition usually develops in the third trimester and causes a sudden rise in blood pressure. Treatment options are based on the severity of the condition and may include medication to reduce blood pressure and the risk of stroke, but these treatments are not a cure for the disease. It is best to visit a doctor for regular checkups for early detection of preeclampsia

Srujana Mohanty
She is the Managing Editor of Cogito137, one of India’s leading student-run science communication magazines. She's been working in scientific and medical writing and editing since 2018, also associated with the quality assurance team of scientific journal editing. Majored in Chemistry with a minor in Biology at IISER Kolkata, Srujana loves doodling and watching series.


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